Andy Best’s practice – including sculpture, painting, and photography – examines the potential for the transcendent moment within contemporary urban life. Formal and representational elements, often drawn from art history and popular culture, act as an underlying stage for more occult and personal investigations.
An early work Pauline recreated the seminal video game Donkey Kong, recreated in life-sized building materials. As both an over sized, overtly masculine orange modernist structure, and as a stage devoid of protagonists (save for a reference to the game’s object Pauline in the work’s title) the work reflected upon underlying themes of life, love, risk, and death.
Best’s installations often function as a series of unfolding clues, which interrogate fundamental questions. Paradise (2004), a post apocalyptic wasteland (featuring automated photocopiers, a glowing bubble tea, horror masks, and mimetic hand-made weeds) reflected on the desolation of the modern office, its magic realism unmistakably bringing forward its deeper concerns.
The links between magic, formalism, hallucination and the afterlife has continued in other photographs and installations. The widely reproduced Fall Series (2005) depicts urban individuals in cinematic, dramatic free-falls. With equal reference to fashion photography and religious iconography, viewers are presented with an intense and complex portrait of our place in a contemporary moment. The fake chain restaurant Knox Burger (2005), its surface overgrown by jungle vines, revealed cinematic dioramas made from lumps of solid molded cocaine. Other paintings, drawings and sculptures further blurred the distinction between popular media and more private realities.
These connections became more complicated with the Oom Series (2008 – ongoing). The entity Oom is drawn from many sources: literature, history, and elsewhere in popular culture. In Best’s project it forms a single malevolent force – a reincarnating alter-ego perhaps – which creates hallucinogenic paintings and sculptures. Not constrained to one individual, the force influences a related counter-cultural group, whose history is depicted in photographs, installations, and other artifacts.
Best was born in Adelaide, Australia, in 1975. He studied a MFA at Chelsea School of Art, London in 2007. Exhibitions include the Tate Britain (How We May Be, 2007), The Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (Primavera, 2009), the Tsagaandarium Museum, Ulaanbaatar (Formal Intensity: Australian Art Today, 2012), the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia (2004: Australian Culture Now), the Heide Museum of Modern Art (Perfect For Every Occasion: Photography Today, 2007), Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Melbourne (You Must Have Been in Strange Places, 2005). Other exhibitions include the Art Gallery of South Australia (2006), Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide (2009), The Contemporary Art Centre of SA (2005, 2009, 2010), Stills Gallery, Sydney (2006), The West Gallery, UK (2007), 24HR Art, Darwin (2004), the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (2002, 2003, 2012), and the Australian Experimental Art Foundation (2003, 2006).
Andy Best was awarded an Anne & Gordon International Visual Arts Scholarship in 2006. He co-founded Downtown, an artist-run space in a disused dodgem rink, in 2001. His work is represented in private collections in the UK, the USA, Norway, Sweden, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates, including Artbank, Absolut Vodka, the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Brett Whiteley Museum, Sydney.