Words – Julia Howland

Photos – Kim Demuth

The Destructors is a short story written by Graham Greene, in this ironic tale, Greene depicts a group of young boys who tear down a beautiful, old house despite the inhabitant’s (Old Misery) objections. Through the prolonged and thorough destruction, Greene introduces the notion of creation through demolition, and beauty within chaos. The irony within this story has been applauded since its release in 1954 and its this very paradox that we find in Kim Demuth’s haunting yet charming work.

As a young boy, moving from city to city with his family, solidarity was a comforting state and visual art proved to be an immediate outlet. Creating an escape from the reality of social constructs became his challenge and stripping away preconceived notions of beauty only allowed him to magnify his talents. When he was very small he remembers a trip where his family visited a cathedral; there he faced ghostly shadows and stark architecture. Terribly frightened and unnervingly captivated, he credits this moment to his passion and draw to a world of haunting beauty. He admits he is “inspired by what we don’t know,” and what only our minds can create.

By emphasizing a blurred image, he can offer the viewer a chance to interpret each piece as they wish. Of course each opinion and view of art is subjective: feelings manifest themselves and you establish a relationship with the piece, mixing and weighing every aspect until it survives as a whole thought in your mind. And yet with Demuth’s pieces, we find ourselves abandoned of process. You struggle with where to start, how to approach and finally question if you can truly construct something fathomable from what you see. The distorted visions and ghostly figures bewilder the senses. He feels true art “heavily relies on antithesis – that being the marriage of oppositions, because I suppose that is the nature of the world; my world anyway.”

Art is an ever changing, moving, dancing, and even loving form that we have all come to appreciate. Demuth believes art should encourage us, forces us to look at the world in a different way, and push us into the unknown. His textured images have taken him around the world and has helped him discover new materials and create new ideas. Although based in Brisbane, his work can be seen at Beam Contemporary Gallery here in Melbourne. Through these works you experience the documentation of a destructed building; chairs laying in ruins, broken doors, windows, and ceilings. His role here is of a creator, not of the image but of the beauty we find in the rubble. As with Greene’s The Destructors, Demuth allows us to find innocence in squalor and grace in devastation. He feels this particular exhibition is the first part of a long evolution into a different type of creative expression but he admits to leaving the future to an unknown and enjoying that freedom.

His mystery is only matched by his eloquance and candor. And it only feels appropriate to leave you with his saturating words:

So my perspective is, that [contemporary visual art] is no less conservative or more radical a field to work in, as let’s say politics, and for that matter, it is political. It’s often about towing the line and playing the game – maintaining traditions and keeping up with trends, referencing the right things, and so forth. A good artist should be able to see, think and perform beyond this.