David Brophy. Image courtesy of the artist.David Brophy: Translating Waves

Words by Jack Pam

Within the past 12 months, amongst other things, David Brophy has graduated from Curtin University, contributed a work to the annual Western Australian focused exhibition HERE&NOW15 at Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, developed and exhibited artworks in Bali (Expression Session at Griya Santrian Gallery) and held his first solo exhibition in Perth (other side of the moon at Free Range Gallery).

What lies ahead, he says, is a self-proclaimed holiday from exhibition orientated creative practice. He’s turning away from an approach that mirrors the assignment-based mentality of art school and is re-focusing on developing ideas.

David Brophy. Word in progress in Bali, 2015“Openings are a very fleeting moment, but it is important to gain a few kernels of feedback. I try to keep the conversation ongoing, beyond the exhibition, as this is part of what drives me,” he says.

David’s work as an art gallery technician for PICA, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery and Fremantle Arts Centre is an understandably important contributor to surrounding himself with daily conversations about art.

David has a naturally acquired belief that drives his creative output; an intrinsic trust that constructed visual languages are superior to any spoken or written communicative device when it comes to describing the human condition. His work is developed through a process contributed to by his connection to the natural world, together with objects that surround his daily life. His work mostly combines sculpture, three dimensional installations and light. These elements are steeped in who he is and his personal experiences of belonging. The end result offers a quiet sensibility, what you see feels like a distilled, frozen moment of a long journey of analysis, discovery and play. It is apparent in conversation that he thinks a lot about replicating and reliving critical life experiences, possibly as a way of understanding and adding to them, and at the very least as a way of acknowledging their significance. 

Surfing is an act he holds on to when describing his work. The sport and its many iconic symbols, combined with its subcultural significance, are there in some of the visual forms he creates but for me this quickly becomes non-essential to the work’s potential.

Surfing appears to be an apparatus like a box that helps him to think within its constraints, or at least a more controlled environment established to focus and motivate ideas.

David Brophy, high line, 2015. Tent, fluorescent lights, fixings, 105x345x300cm. Image: Bo Wong

In this way, rather than thinking about everything and anything, he restricts his thought process to the moments after sand has washed from his toes on his paddle, heading towards the lineup. By translating these experiences into visual constructed metaphors, Brophy finds a gateway, delivering vast swathes of powerful and delicate emotional states. It is a device that is surprisingly un-limiting to the audiences’ personal views, experiences or connections to the sport and the culture surrounding it. As a viewer the elusive desire, wanderlust and charm associated with “the barrel” can become any major life goal, if you let it.

David Brophy’s palette of everyday objects mixed with his use of an instigative metaphor goes a long way to drawing people in. What happens next is a mystery as unique as people are different, but a lot of care and attention has been given to his work in order to amplify that potential experience.
David Brophy, other side of the moon, 2015. Photographer: Alessandro Bianchetti

Jack Pam is a nomadic independent curator and freelance writer.

Image credits (top to bottom)

  • David Brophy, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist
  • David Brophy, work in progress in Bali, 2015. Image courtesy of the artist
  • David Brophy, high line, 2015. Tent, fluorescent light, fixings, 105x345x300cm. Photographer: Bo Wong
  • David Brophy, other side of the moon, 2015. Mixed media, dimensions variable. Photographer: Alessandro Bianchetti