Balloons, Cartoons and Other Lampoons opens at Artful :The Gallery on May 25th with a solo exhibition of the work of Daniel Needham. Recently relocated to Courtenay, Daniel Needham has been enjoying introducing himself and his artwork to the Comox Valley. Needham has a wide range of artistic production which extends from sculpting in marble to painting on black velvet, including stops and investigations at most every point between.
Needham’s exquisite craftsmanship elevates his disdain for the sacred…well…to the level of sacred. Describing his work as post-catholic, Needham finds inspiration in his dismay about the stories he was told as a boy. He now derives great pleasure in re-interpreting and re-illustrating these tales to deliver a more humanist (and humorous) version. Needham’s keen intelligence, sardonic humour, and acerbic perspective serve him well as he levels his gaze squarely at the sacred icons of culture. He is unflinching as he pokes fun, and as precise in his execution as a surgeon.
Needham describes himself as having an elysian childhood, cavorting wildly through the woods, and yet his Catholic upbringing, and it’s art, is the dark seed of inspiration for much of his artwork. Needham is not apathetic to his religious upbringing and sees that his mission is to re-illustrate the stories of Catholicism, making post-Catholic work for the next millennia.
Needham characterizes his early working career as his Canadiana Program: window glazier, oil rig worker, tree planter, shipwright, commercial fisherman, cabinet maker and carpenter. This breadth of experience is reflected in the art he creates, demonstrating a mature skilfulness across mediums, materials, and genres.
Needham worked as a civil servant for 25 years after earning his Masters degree in Forestry Economics. Over those years Daniel began producing art; paintings first, followed by stone sculptures, and now encompassing any material that suits his vision for execution. By the time Daniel retired from public service, a pent-up artist was prepared to burst forth onto the island art scene, and Needham has done exactly that…Covid be damned.
Needham’s artistry is as varied as his early careers, which served to educate him as a resourceful and innovative technician and artisan. The artworks that he creates are elegantly beguiling, often paradoxically belying his belittlement of the subject matter. Needham has not resorted to indifference in his dismissal. He is truly creating art for the next millennia, and as he says, “I like carving in rock best. Rock art lasts longest.”
Needham is driven to mock icons, rather than destroy them, for the benefit of humanity. An iconoclast attacks cherished beliefs or institutions, and an anachronist belongs to a different period of time. Needham is both, while paradoxically creating new icons to revere at this time. Needham succeeds, where others may fail, by using the gifts of his skill, his intelligence, and his ability to create beautiful objects. These highly irreverent objects of art challenge and provoke with the graceful sword edges of humour and humanity.
Where & When
Balloons, Cartoons and Other Lampoons runs May 25th through June 25th at Artful : The Gallery. Join us for an evening celebration of the exhibition on May 27th, 7:00 to 9:00pm. Gallery hours Weds – Sat 12:00 to 5:00pm.