Often working from archival images, Daniel Boyd's figurative paintings are created in oil, watercolour, or charcoal, and overlaid with dots of archival glue or resin, to an effect similar to that of traditional Aboriginal art, or Pointillism.Read More
Boyd is interested in representing multiple 'lenses'—both visually reflected in the shifting surface, as well as conceptually—as seeing an image or narrative from multiple perspectives. The blacked-out negative spaces between the dots perforate the viewer's reading of the image, carrying Boyd's suggestion of the holes in collective memory.
Emerging from his early 'Captain Cook' series of paintings, Boyd gained further recognition for his works such as Captain No Beard (2006). Working in the style of European historic and figurative paintings, Boyd's monumental canvases parodied iconic colonial works depicting the settler narrative of Captain Cook, commissioned soon after the federation of Australia.
For We Call Them Pirates Out Here (2006), a title referencing Wes Anderson's 2004 film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Boyd reimagines a famous historic painting from 1902 by Emanuel Phillip Fox, depicting the landing of Captain Cook landing at Botany Bay in 1770.
In Boyd's version, Cook wears an eyepatch and carries a 'Jolly Jack' flag—a hybrid of the Union Jack and the skull and crossbones of the Jolly Roger. The series title 'No Beard' alludes to the presumption by Indigenous Australian people upon Cook's landing that the captain and his crew were women due to their lack of facial hair, while also reworking historic narratives to point to the suggestion of piracy.
In 2014, Boyd won the prestigious Bulgari Art Award for his work Untitled (2014), which depicts a scene from Pentecost Island in Vanuatu, referenced from a found archival photograph.
Using oil, pastel and archival glue, the large-scale monochromatic work references the home of Boyd's great great grandfather before he was enslaved at the sugarcane plantations in Queensland during the period of 'blackbirding' where Pacific Island people were forcibly indentured as labourers.
The dot technique was developed to represent a 'cultural lens', which allows for other understandings of history, while Boyd also pondered his own cultural inheritance and what was lost through imperialism that still affects his generation today.
In 2016, Boyd presented Far North at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. The exhibition comprised a series of paintings emerging from sources including family photographs and archival media, executed in the artist's signature dot technique. Untitled (BFK) (2015) depicts a waterfall near Giangurra in Cairns—an area intrinsically tied to Boyd's childhood memories.
Influenced by Édouard Glissant's Poetics of Relation, which likens the surface of the ocean to concepts of knowledge bubbling up to the shimmering waves, Boyd's Far North paintings visually manifest this texture in the way they change and respond to light.