THE STARS KNOW MY NAME
Darren Sylvester at the Hellenic Museum
10 February—23 April 2023
Power. Status. Beauty. The pursuit of these desirable qualities transcends time and culture, and has coloured much of history. In The Stars Know My Name, works from leading multi-disciplinary artist Darren Sylvester are contrasted against a selection of ancient-inspired bronze helmets from the Hellenic Museum collection.
Based on cosmetic beauty masks and the mythical Fountain of Youth – an idea alluded to by the Greek chronicler Herodotus in the 5th Century BCE – Sylvester’s polished bronze sculptures speak to an unrelenting, hyper-capitalised world of beauty, youth and status as social currency. Their fluid forms and polished surfaces evoke this enduring allure of eternal beauty and the excess of modern consumerism.
In the past, the helmets of the ancient Greek hoplites were tools of self-preservation, protecting flesh from battle. Before they were tarnished by war and time, they too were polished bronze; symbols of the glory attributed to warriors and the archetypal heroes to which they aspired, whose stories were immortalised in the stars.
Though worlds apart, these objects share the same concern for reputation and mortality. Together, this contrasting display illustrates a universal story of human desire – not only for longevity, but power and status, in whatever form they may take.
Darren Sylvester installation, NGVA, 2019. Photo: Tom Ross.
About the artist
Darren Sylvester's multi-disciplinary practice – spanning photography, sculpture, music and installation – involves a wide-ranging assemblage of pop cultural references in both concept and medium.
His photography, for example, feels instantly recognisable as it deftly moves through the familiar languages of luxury branding, movie sets and high-production commercial photoshoots. However, upon deeper contemplation, his works are infused with existential yearnings and desires, employing pop culture moments and their subsequent artefacts to explore a mix of authenticity, desirability, contemporary ennui and mortality.
Sylvester has exhibited widely nationally and internationally. His work is held in many public and private collections including the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Queensland Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Melbourne and Monash University gallery collections and the Sir Elton John private collection.
Darren Sylvester is represented by Neon Parc, Melbourne and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney.
Selected recent exhibitions include:
2 Telegenic to Die, Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney (2023)
Maria Kozic / Darren Sylvester, Neon Parc, Melbourne (2023)
Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia (2022)
The National, Carriageworks, NSW (2021)
Shoobie Doobie, Neon Parc, Melbourne (2021)
Carve a Future, Devour Everything, Become Something,
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2019)