Shaun Tan - Creature

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Creature is an exhibition of Shaun Tan's drawings, painting and sculpture depicting beings both real and imagined, from local cats and birds to fairy tale personages and ‘lost things’. This exhibition will be held at Beinart Gallery's new location, 307 Victoria St, Brunswick.

Join our preview list for early access to the online catalogue and the opportunity to purchase artworks from this exhibition.

Opening reception: Saturday, March 27th, 5pm - 9pm

This exhibition will run from March 28th - April 18th

We also have an ever growing range of Shaun Tan's signed limited edition prints available at the gallery! All of our prints are available in our online shop.

From tiny sketchbook doodles to large canvas paintings, the concept of the nameless or unknowable creature has been central to Tan’s work as a means of exploring themes of displacement, companionship and loss.

My earliest drawings, like those of many children, were all about creatures. Birds, dinosaurs, monsters, robots. Humans came much later, a smaller subset of that much larger category of living beings, the creature, a thing both real and imaginary. Like the last in a long line of questions, humans are perhaps the most obscure. We forever struggle to imagine ourselves, to work out what kind of creature we might be in countless fanciful pictures and stories. Maybe it’s because our true nature, if there is such a thing, seems endlessly displaced, intentionally or otherwise: by language, myth, self-doubt, cultural pretension, and that most primal of all fictional narratives, dreams. Dreams that tickle our consciousness with a weird truth: that we are, in fact, whatever creature we imagine ourselves to be.

As a kid, though, I didn’t think much about this, and still don’t very much at the action end of an easel or sketchbook. I draw first and ask questions later. I just trust in some deeper attraction that is not especially studied, just the simple allure of drawing a creature to which I always return, as if sitting right beside my five-year-old self. It’s an attraction as old as a prehistoric carving (from which I often draw inspiration), and as new as a robot cobbled together from roadside junk. The idea of a novel and nameless living being – as all animals, including ourselves, inherently are – never fails to fascinate, and each begs to tell its own secret story. - Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan grew up in Perth and works as an artist, writer and filmmaker in Melbourne. He is best known for illustrated books that deal with social, political and historical subjects through dream-like imagery: The Rabbits, The Red Tree, Tales from Outer Suburbia and the graphic novel The Arrival have been widely translated throughout the world and enjoyed by readers of all ages. Shaun has also worked as a theatre designer and a concept artist for Pixar. In 2011 he received the prestigious Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in Sweden, in recognition of his services to literature for young people.