Many who are sensitive to the current and future state of the human condition are bound to lament the disastrous situations that are gathering momentum around us, ultimately changing the way climate, landscape and culture progresses.
By the end of 2015 it was estimated that almost 60 million people have now been forced to flee their homelands. Families torn apart, traditions cast aside and with histories tumbling down around them, most regions globally are now struggling with the reality that they must respond, assist, and without the indulgence of time to do so. Boundaries must spread and lifestyles adjusted to keep so many individuals, communities, and cities from becoming displaced or permanently nomadic.
It seems poignant therefore that Eiseman would title his exhibition Shifting Landscapes. It evokes an internal dialogue initially – the self, traversing the landscape on his own journey, time and memory becoming entangled and sometimes suspended at a point where one might question the possibility of contentment. A man is seen stumbling across his bronzed stage, a suitcase being dragged behind him spilling out a menagerie of memorabilia. A female bust, a small dog, a school of fish surreally wedged in to the base, but even as the case empties it still appears heavy, as though carrying the weight of those items – even if lost - will never ease. In another scenario we see a gentleman co-operating with a mythical birdman (an omen often seen in Eiseman’s works) to carry a table. Upon it is a constructed landscape, a steep mound with tall trees protruding from its surface, the fingertips of its maker evident in the form. The themes of relocation, of bewilderment, of searching and of discovery are all embedded within each piece, and have been themes explored throughout the artist’s practice for the past two decades. The most important aspect of the bronzes, yet perhaps the least surprising, is their ability to connect with so many. The narratives that are carved in to the wax by Eiseman and then cast in bronze to be constructed in to maquettes portray emotions that are contemplated by all of us in one way or another, young and old. We immediately project our own experience and internal struggle on to the works, and with that they can be used as a window for reflection, an alternative, solution or simple respite in that we are not alone with these thoughts.
Our natural environment is also at the mercy of our impact upon it. As we seek to find a humbling connection to the landscape to counteract the technological boom of the current generations, it is disintegrating around us. The effects of industry, pollution, population growth, displacement and negligence are seen globally, and even in the surrounds of Jon Eiseman’s two studios – one in Melbourne’s semi-rural eastern suburbs, and the other in a small township in Northern Tasmania with vistas of Bass Strait, being immersed in the landscape is where these effects are seen most potently. The references of wildlife, trees and the ocean are an expression of this acute sense of awareness.
And so the importance of the shifting landscape – as the self must adjust to a changing world, to find a lightness despite a heavy head or heart, so globally the landscape finds itself shifting. Cultural digressions, forests burning, ancient artefacts falling, ice melting. Searching, longing, hoping. These sculptures represent millions of journeys, as well as that continued one of their maker.
By Melanie Caple, Barts(FA), MArts 2016
Jon Eiseman has been a practicing artist/sculptor since 1985. During this time he has participated in many solo and group exhibitions throughout Australia. In 1998 he completed a Bachelor of Arts [Fine Arts] at Monash University and graduated with Honours. In 2000 he completed a Master of Fine Arts at Monash University.
In 2014 Eiseman exhibited in the trail section of the Lorne Sculpture Biennale. In 2013 he was a finalist in the McClelland Small Sculpture Fair. In 2010 he was part of the McClelland Sculpture Survey Exhibition and was also a finalist in the Williamstown Festival Contemporary Art Prize, The Deakin University Small Sculpture Award and The Alice Art Prize.
Eiseman has completed several public, corporate and private commissions throughout Australia. His sculptural work features in the permanent collections of The Constable & Hershon Vineyard & Sculpture Garden, Hunter Valley, NSW, La Trobe University Collection, Parliament House, Hobart, Tasmania, Geelong Regional Gallery, Burnie Regional Gallery, and Point Leo Sculpture Park in Victoria. His sculptures are part of private collections in New Zealand, USA, Asia and Europe. Jon Eiseman is currently working full time as a sculptor.