Be gone with the gone
sheet 40.0 (h) x 28.0 (w) cm
Acquired with the support of Calypso Mary Efkarpidis
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Al Stark’s iconography is a deeply personal one, featuring a cast of whimsical, anthropomorphic creatures populating skeletal landscapes of pattern and form, and punctuated by elements of dark humour. Be gone with the gone, like many of Stark’s drawings, is a dreamlike neo-Gothic tableaux in which wandering, decorative lines grow into self-revelatory narratives and characters embodying the artist’s personal demons and internal struggles. Here the artist’s practice is represented as a cathartic means of processing depression, fear of abandonment and love lost. Comical figures such as a delirious Mickey Mouse held at knifepoint and a plump, glowering black cat, play the role of fool or jester within this surrealistic world, in the words of the artist, ‘snickering at our every effort, but keeping us in interesting company’. Typography is also a key element in Stark’s work, both as a graphic device and a carrier of meaning. His swirling compositions are reminiscent of the whip lash lines of Art Nouveau, with geometric designs showing Art Deco and folk art influences.