Written by Dr. Ken Wach
Associate Professor, School of Creative Arts,
The University of Melbourne

The works of Marcel Cousins are informed by a new Pacific Rim aesthetic. He has an acute ability to fashion a fresh artistic view of a longitudinal time zone based slice of the globe. The range of his imagination covers the signs and images of Australia, Japan and China and he shuttles back and forth between these countries scanning the characteristics of their diverse visual cultures. Cousins is typical of a newly emerged contemporary category of artists in Australia; they are not concerned so much with identity but more with how an Australian sees the world they no longer go inland, they go overseas - and they go equipped with a certain mental detachment and visual discernment.

Thematically, Cousins's colourful and technically accomplished works are conditioned by the ubiquity of films, cartoons, television commercials, advertising graphics and the flickering and superficial qualities of mass culture. Conceptually, his works are discriminating visual commentaries based upon reflections on todays new floating world of travel, popular culture, mass media, electronic information and the ephemeral of daily life. Technically, his varied works range from airbrush, conventional painting, ink-jet printing, laser cut works, collage, montage and screenprinting.

Cousins's paintings and prints are based upon a new cinematic visuality that works through the maze of imagistic offerings presented by travel and offered up through perceptive observation. Moving through the Pacific Rim region, Cousins constantly looks for visual characteristics that seem to condense first time impressions. What we subsequently see in his works are the results of a new type of mentally nomadic imagination that has arisen in the art of a new generation. Cousins is a wandering eye. Therefore, what we get in his artistic works are graphic, lucid mental snapshots of a cool exoticism. He wanders, we wait and watch for the results. What we eventually view in his sophisticated paintings and prints are not the false commercial images of tourist postcards, but the aesthetic reconstructions of a highly informed and perceptive artistic imagination.

Obviously, the more foreign the better, as strangeness sharpens the senses everything must be as though seen for the first time. The continent of Europe holds few such surprises - its images are so well-known and recirculated that they seem distantly familiar, even to the works contain no Australian elements and they are not perplexed or restricted by local idioms or questions of national identity such questions or themes draw yawns. Cousins s imagination is of Australia, but it is not about Australia Cousins's thought is implanted into other lands and then fertilised by foreign nutrients. In his artistic reflections a Post-modern love of surface and cultural edge comes into play and the seductive appeal of difference is always present.

All of these aesthetic qualities and visual attributes have drawn notable attention from curators, collectors and galleries - little wonder then that Cousins has won six major art awards, completed two large commissions and is represented in many significant private collections and the National Gallery of Australia.

Cousins is a new type of Australian artist one whose works are lively and acute visual commentaries, based upon reflections on the world of travel, popular culture, mass media, pictorial information and the ephemera of everyday life.

Upcoming Exhibitions

Summer New
James Makin Gallery
14 January - 10 February 2021

Bayside Acquisitive Art Prize
Bayside Gallery
14 May - 4 July 2021