Tom O’Hern — Slack Babbath

SydneyArt & Culture

Master of Reality

Tasmanian artist is our new prince of darkness...

Tasmanian art-agitator Tom O’Hern produces work that looks like the eponymous opener of Black Sabbath’s eponymous 1970 debut sounds: an ominous, creeping, dark and foreboding introduction to another world. As gleefully frightening as the Birmingham band’s first offering may have been to the Age of Aquarius kids of the late ’60s, black humour was never too far from their best work, not least in the form of their wild young vocalist – equally there’s plenty of that to be had here in O’Hern’s work too. Fitting then that the artist’s latest exhibition goes under the name Slack Babbath, lifted from one of just three works that comprise this precursor to a major show in Melbourne later in the year.

Sydney’s Chalk Horse Gallery is the venue for this Blackartprojects-presented offering, which until 4th May will be showing off the aforementioned work along with animation Anticripes and the delightfully titled ink on paper work Piss Widow – but we thought it a bloody good opportunity to introduce some of the Hobart-based artist’s other work too, along with some behind-the-scenes shots of O’Hern at work. And play.

Mesmerisingly complex, Tom’s detailed works play out like one of Tony Iommi’s intricate riffs; tight and frantic, controlled yet wild in equal measures. Constantly flirting with occult iconography, O’Hern’s art never falls on the side of pastiche or disingenuity – there’s a real honesty to the Tasmanian’s labyrinthine drawings that is so easily lost by many who dabble on the brink of tongue-in-cheek. Smart and talented, Tom O’Hern’s ventures Into the Void certainly are ones that we’ll be following with ardour from now on…

Tom O'Hern, Slack Babbath

Slack Babbath (2012)
acrylic on linen
218 x 245 cm

Tom O'Hern, Slack Babbath Tom O'Hern, Slack Babbath Tom O'Hern, Slack Babbath

Anticripes (still) (2012)
video loop, soundtrack

Tom O'Hern, Slack Babbath Tom O'Hern, Slack Babbath Tom O'Hern, Slack Babbath

Piss Widow (detail) (2011)
ink on paper
151 x 106 cm

Tom O'Hern, Slack Babbath Tom O'Hern, Slack Babbath Tom O'Hern, Slack Babbath

All images courtesy Tom O’Hern /
Blackartprojects

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