Alan Young was born in Scotland in 1980, and arrived in Australia in 1987, where he later studied Fine Art at the University of Tasmania. Young’s paintings capture a vast array of situations he sees and experiences in his everyday life, sometimes presenting discernible narratives and other times just snippets of information. Though depicting a broad range people and events, Young’s paintings are indisputably connected through his distinct visual style; his characteristic use of bold colours, and the formation of scenes which sit in a space that is not entirely figurative or abstract.
Though the sites and subjects of Young’s paintings vary broadly, from street scenes and parties to beaches and sports fields, music and dancing is a recurring theme, including in Young’s DCC Permanent Collection work Wine, Dance and Music. Young’s interest in music originally developed as a teenager, alongside his interest in painting, and the two remain uniquely connected as music is not only the subject of many of his works; he also often dances while he paints.
At the time that Wine, Dance and Music was painted, Young was experiencing a frustration with aspects of club culture, less so with the music itself, and more so with the sincerity of the scene and its associated drinking and drug cultures. However, Young has stated that his critique of music culture has since expanded to his more recent exploration of the links between music, movement and art more broadly. In his recent exhibition Dance While Everybody is Watching at Moonah Arts Centre, Young encouraged people to dance to the music playing in the gallery space while viewing the exhibition. Young’s concept was inspired by an article written by the late disability advocate Stella Young, ‘who argued that no matter what kind of disability you live with you should be able to dance without being stared at, pitied or commented on’. Young’s connection to this article stems from his own disability, which causes the irregular movements that have become a key part of his style, through the unique energy and movement conveyed through each shape and brush stroke.
Beyond the themes of music and movement, Young has expressed an interest in the relationship between people and place, stating that he finds it difficult to separate the two. The places depicted in paintings like Wine, Dance and Music are almost personified, this again stemming from the energy expressed through his work. As Young paints his everyday experiences and elements of the world that resonate with him, music, parties and streetscapes become their own vibrant characters in his stories.
-Erin Wilson, Curator of Collections
You can view more of Alan Young’s works through his website
Coming up in 2017, Alan Young has been invited to participate in the University of Queensland’s National Self-Portrait Prize exhibition, as well as having his work featured in the exhibition Glover in Arcadia exhibition at The Barn at Rosny Farm in April.