We’re thrilled to present ‘PLAY’, a new body of work by emerging Victorian artist Joshua Searle. PLAY is a dynamic collection of work charged with socio-political commentary rendered in bright colour and bold lines. With the immediacy of a street artist, Searle simultaneously expresses the seriousness of the content with a disarmingly playful approach. Bringing new life to otherwise discarded objects, as well as large canvases, Searle’s work is unmissable in both scale and its arresting content.

16 February – 26 February, 2023

Online and in the gallery at 311 Smith St Wurundjeri Fitzroy.

Live ‘In Conversation’ Talk with Joshua Searle, hosted by Modern Times co-director Amy Malin.
Free Ticketed Event
5:30 to 6:30pm, Tuesday 21 February 2023
311 Smith St Wurundjeri Fitzroy

Sponsored by Blackhearts & Sparrow.

A self-taught artist, Searle’s initial explorations of painting were largely sparked by the inspiration of Haitian-Puerto Rican-American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Particularly, Basquiat’s use of colour, cryptic text, challenging contextual aspects, and propensity for working at scale. Searle explores similar themes – relating to his childhood, Black genius, joy, colonisation, urbanisation, cross-cultural experiences, industrialisation, and psychology. Searle uses a variety of mediums including acrylic, oil stick, oil pastel, pencil, enamel, and spray paint, often painting upon found materials.

Jack Johnson by Joshua Searle, Acrylic and oil stick on board, 1240 x 900mm

PLAY features nine works, each influenced by Searle’s own experiences and critical observations. The vibrant palette inspired by Searle’s Colombian heritage; a palette that at times contradicts its subject matter. In his work ‘Jack Johnson’, Searle manages to depict both a physical and metaphorical example of black injustice using bright pink to illustrate the infamous American boxer’s blood, representing his plight for recognition amongst the white community. Using a found board, this not only reflects Searle’s appreciation for the beauty in these weathered materials but also serves to underline the necessary resourcefulness often required by the marginalised.

I see a lot of artists focus more so on aesthetics, but I like having something to say... If people are listening, I want to talk about the things I find important.”
— Joshua Searle
Mariachi by Joshua Searle, Acrylic, oil stick, oil pastel and nails on wooden assemblage, 1010 x 1140mm

Whilst questioning the confronting issues and struggles that come with being a person of a colour, Searle simultaneously celebrates Black excellence and the strength that one’s culture can provide. ‘Mariachi’ depicts a mariachi musician with a red sombrero, orange trumpet and enormous disembodied yellow eyes. It’s a playful representation of a Mexican folk culture that celebrates their struggles, joys and growth.

Searle currently works from his studio on the Mornington Peninsula, where he was born and raised.

Joshua Searle is an exciting up-and-coming young artist who we are thrilled to present as our upcoming Artist in Focus with his body of work, PLAY. You will find all the works below and proudly exhibited in our gallery from 16-26 February.

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