Kieran Madden, More is More

The pieces I have chosen for “More is More” bridge a period from my final few years in New York to my arrival back in Australia and the start of my practice here. My inspiration for these works as always is to take vintage print imagery and recontextualize it to create collages that range from simple visual puns to tableaux that interrogate contemporary issues.

An important part of my process involves a constant search for new source material to add to my archive. I leave myself open to whatever may cross my path such a street find for example, as well as actively hunting for new troves of old printed matter. Selected images that spark an idea set in motion a process of going through my archives for that other image or images needed to assemble a final composition. Chance plays a part here, in some cases I may be looking for one thing when I find another more fitting image. This can happen relatively quickly or be a long drawn out process with everything from scale, colour palette and even a match of paper stock being considered. When a piece finally comes together there is an instant recognition that it couldn’t be any other way.

The technique I employ is always a ‘cut and paste’ analog approach. I have a rule no matter how rare or precious a print artefact seems it is all fair game on the cutting mat. I believe the use of these items not only adds an intrinsic value to the work due to its scarcity, but it also makes a feature of the print and paper quality something a scanned reproduction would lose.

The relative obscurity and rareness of these ephemeral images combined with the randomness of their discovery and provenance results in the creation of truly unique images. This is a refreshing thing to see in this constantly resampled digital world, which I think may explain the resurgence in popularity of this art practice.

In many ways my collage habit is a byproduct of being an image maker with a life-long love of digging through op shops, thrift store and flea markets. As a child of the 70’s and 80’s it was clear to me then that ‘modern’ things were massed produced and had a built-in obsolescence. I had a real sense that in the past things were made with more care and were meant to last, this was apparent in both the craft used in their fabrication and the materials they were made with. This outlook is reflected in the type of materials I am drawn to in collecting the source materials for my collages. I seek predominantly color photographic images in books and magazines from the birth of massed produced colour printing in the 1950’s through to the 1970’s or 80’s at the latest – when magazine paper in particular got flimsy and glossy. I am drawn to the quality and vibrancy of the printing as much as I am the to the images themselves.

At this point I have many hundreds vintage magazines and pieces of ephemera in my collection. With books I tend to remove the images that catch my eye and ditch the book to save space in my studio. I have numerous archival boxes full of pages that have been selected for yet to be determined outcomes, as well as several flat drawers bulging with loose clippings waiting to go under the knife. It’s a fine line between being a collector and a hoarder when it comes to collage artists.

Kieran Madden is multi-media artist whose practice is primarily focused on collage. Much of the source materials come from US magazines and books of the mid-century boom era through to the 1980’s. These advertising and media images depict a world of unfettered consumption and muted social awareness. By recontextualizing this imagery into unexpected juxtapositions, he explores the consequences of this trajectory, many of which we live with today.

Kieran has recently returned to Australia after 10 years living and working in Brooklyn, New York. During this period, he was one of the founding members of the influential Brooklyn Collage Collective. On relocating to Melbourne at the end of 2018, he set out to start a similar group locally launching the Melbourne Collage Assembly in May 2019.

He has shown his work in exhibitions widely and also done editorial commissions. In 2017 he was included in the publication ‘Making the Cut Vol. 1 – The World’s Greatest Collage Artists’. 

To see Kieran’s work in More is More click here.