Debutantes: Dylan Mooney

Dylan Mooney, a Yuwi, Torres Strait and South Sea Islander artist, works in a medium not traditionally associated with Aboriginal art: digital drawing on an iPad.

Words: Claire G. Coleman

Dylan  Mooney,  a  Yuwi,  Torres  Strait  and  South Sea Islander artist, works in a medium not  traditionally  associated  with  Aboriginal  art:  digital  drawing  on  an  iPad  –  a  growing  medium  and  a  powerful  one,  with  an  ease  of accessibility that empowers the artist and the  work.  Mooney  is  legally  blind,  I  don’t  mention that so the reader can see him as an inspiration or so you can be surprised by the perfect  lines  in  his  work,  but  as  a  means  to  explain his digital practice which allows him to work close in on a backlit screen.

“I  work  in  these  mediums  because  I  love  to draw”, says Mooney. “When I first started my art practice, I was a drawer and that was a steppingstone into my other mediums such as printmaking and digital illustrations.”

What    I    find    most    interesting    about    Mooney  is  his  queerness  and  his  blackness  and  how  well  those  intersectional  identities  seem amalgamated. The conflict the uninitiated might imagine, between blak and queer, between   modern   and   classical,   between   digital  art  and  art  in  more  traditional  media  does  not  exist  except  in  the  imagination  of  the  new  or  casual  visitor  to  the  queer  blak  world where so many of us live and work. As the  artist  said  when  I  mentioned  his  inter-sectionality,  “it  is  who  I  am  and  it’s  great  to  represent who I am within my work and tell these stories that other mob may be familiar with as well and also making that connection with other people who view my art.

”What the viewer and collector of Mooney’s work should find interesting is how cultured, cultural  and  connected  his  work  is.  “My  inspiration  comes  from  my  family,  community  stories,  my  culture  and  events  that  are  happening in Australia”, he says and perhaps that,  connection  to  community  and  culture  as  well  as  the  wider  cultural  landscape  of  Australia is where the artist’s strength lies.

Mooney has work in Queer at the National Gallery  of  Victoria,  Melbourne  and  his  solo  exhibition On  the  Edge  shows  at  N.Smith  Gallery,  Sydney  in  February  2022.  On  the  Edge presents  new  work  exploring  native  Australian flora, with works combining digital illustrations with hand-embellished gold leaf and ochre sourced from Yuwi Country.

Featured image: Dylan Mooney, Grevillea Venusta (detail), 2021. Digital illustration, available in two sizes: 120 x 85cm and 85 x 60cm. Courtesy: the artist and N.Smith Gallery, Sydney.

This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 99, January-March 2022. 

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