Damien Kamholtz

Remember This

March 24 - April 7 2012

In the slow process of building narrative through nuanced layers of paint and latent symbolism, Damien Kamholtz's imagery manifests much like the surfacing and subsiding of memory. Deliberately ambiguous, the veiled tableaux generate an imaginative dialogue in which one's personal experience determines interpretation.

"Child as metaphor is key to this," says Toowoomba-based Kamholtz. As a young father of three and a professional educator, it seems only natural that the subject of his art should involve aspects of childhood but they are given an allegorical context. Kamholtz's works offer access to our own repressed, or forgotten, inner realms. In a culture dominated by logic, intellect and linear thinking, life becomes a problem to be solved rather than a mystery to be enjoyed. For children the everyday world is interlaced with the world of fantasy and imagination. We all have parts of ourselves still childlike and curious.

"I paint my own children dancing blindly into or around the inevitable loss of innocence; the beauty and tragedy of the moment when experience outweighs the other. It is a returning to a time of total experience, when all was new and undiscovered," comments Kamholtz. Conjunctly, he employs bird symbology to express that which is instinctive and unbounded. "All I know I've learnt from birds," he says. "Birds have a magical quality to them that I have loved since I was young." Birds represent freedom from restriction, flights of imagination, thoughts and ideas. Throughout the ages they have been seen as mediators and messengers between the mythic and mundane.

Kamholtz explains that he has always viewed the people and creatures in his work as "being like characters arranged on a minimal stage." He has recently extended the process of depicting his multilayered, quite abstract concepts in the making of a short film. "Like my paintings, the film also challenges traditional narrative while mapping f a young boy's imaginative and creative evolution." The film will have its premiere at the Remember This exhibition opening.

Although Kamholtz's art embodies a sense of nostalgia it is not simply about reflection, rather it aims to rekindle receptiveness to alternative ways of seeing. "The works describe their stories in a non-literal manner, not from left to right nor even beginning to end," he continues. "I am not so much interested in eliciting meaning, rather my intent lies in presenting a series of prompts, triggers and facilitators of exchange between parties - the object and the viewer."

"Child is a metaphor for hope, for loss and joy, for blind wisdom and unawareness of pretense. Child is the forming of us now, Child is vivid in the present, a charismatic figure active in the makeup of our memories." Artist's journal 2010


Damien Kamholtz holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts, USQ and is now undertaking Master of Fine Arts. He is currently a part-time lecturer at USQ and also tutors for Queensland's Flying Arts. He is the director and founder of Play on Play, which is a creative collective that promotes community creativity, multiculturalism and environmental awareness. He has published a children's book in collaboration with schools and communities in Central Australia and has recently returned from London where he presented a series of workshops and curated an exhibition at the International Gallery of Children's Art. Among his many achievements Kamholtz gained a Gold Medal in the Illustrators Australia Award, 2012 and has twice been a finalist in the Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship 2005, 2007 and a finalist in the Sulman Prize 2010. He is the recipient of grants and residencies both in Australia and abroad.

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