Paradox III

A three-part online showcase by Sonny Behan, exploring the universal paradox that underlies the existence of all things. The body of work, comprised of three starkly different sculpture collections, is bound together by an overarching narrative that it is only by accepting these contradictions, and becoming comfortable with the ambiguity that exists within all life, that we can find enlightenment as individuals and a society.

Highly regarded as an urban contemporary painter, this is Sonny’s first foray into using sculpture as his primary mode of creative expression. His three-dimensional artworks are vessels for studying the complex relationships between chaos and order; darkness and light. They delve into the indefinite nature of humanity, exposing our perpetual paradoxes as we recreate ourselves over the course of a lifetime.

The numeral in the title – Paradox III – represents the three unique collections, through which Sonny explores the tripartite nature of the world as Ether, Earth, and Water. Yet, the universal power of ‘three’ can be interpreted in many ways; it is the sacred coming together of the mind, the body and the spirit, and the eternal nature of time not only as the past, the present and the future, but also as birth, life, and ultimately death. Inspired by this divine number and its distinctive “wholeness”, Sonny’s new work offers a glimpse into his personal search for a more harmonious relationship with the world around (and within) him.

As the world first started to come to terms with what would become the defining global health crisis of our time, Sonny was thrust into a personal transformation triggered by battles with his own health, and found himself at an interesting crossroads with some time and space to reevaluate and recalibrate. This led him to dedicate the past eighteen months to his studio, a time which has been as much about contemplation, learning, reflection and reimagining, as it has about production.

Cognisant of the physical limitations of the current world, Sonny traded in the traditional gallery walls for an online experience, embracing his passion for film and the opportunity to explore new avenues of creative storytelling. Using film and photography as a mechanism for delving deeper into the themes and emotions felt through the sculptural works, Paradox III conveys a unique visual language that dances tantalizingly between the beautiful and the bizarre.

“After eighteen months of hard work and challenges, of setbacks and growth, of dabbling in the darkness and reaching for the light, this show is the coming together of all aspects of my creativity. Through the process I have picked myself apart, and like the world we now find ourselves in, I am putting myself back together in a way that is stronger than before.”

– Sonny

ETHER

Part One

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EARTH

Part Two

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WATER

Part Three

COMING SOON

Feature wall of gold letters and bones, created for Sonny's To The Bone Exhibition held in New York in 2018

To The Bone

In 2017 Sonny launched his To The Bone project with a global mural tour that brought some of the world’s most iconic and endangered animals into urban environments around the world. Making an impact both on the streets and in the media, the large-scale murals honoured the true beauty of these animals, while encouraging people to protect them for future generations.

Painting the Streets

See murals from around the world come to life

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Over the next year, Sonny painted ten large-scale murals of endangered species in seven countries around the globe including far-reaching locations from New York to Vladivostok, Johannesburg to London. Starting important conversations both offline and online, the true significance of the art spanned far beyond spray paint on brick.

The artist’s creative vision was largely self-funded but also received support from wildlife organisations such as the International Foundation for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Far Eastern Leopards, and Discovery’s Project C.A.T.

The street art tour ended in New York in May of 2018, with a final mural and the opening of Sonny’s first and highly-anticipated solo exhibition of his canvas work, along with a series of hand-painted skull sculptures. The sell-out show explored the precarious balancing act that exists between mankind and the animal kingdom.

The Exhibition

Bringing us face-to-face with a wild world on the brink of extinction

The exhibition was made up of a series of ten mugshot-style paintings of endangered species from around the world. The animals’ faces break away to reveal raw skeletons underneath, a symbol of how their numbers are quickly fading. Ethnic patterns from the animals’ home country adorn the exposed bones, driving home the message that in losing them we’re losing a part of ourselves too.

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At the end of the project Sonny donated a total of $15,500 (a percentage of exhibition sales) to Project C.A.T., to support their work towards doubling the number of tigers in the wild by 2022.

The initiative is a collaboration between Discovery Communications and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) that aims to ensure a healthy habitat for future generations of tigers by helping conserve nearly two million acres of protected land in India and Bhutan.

Sculptures

Discover the series of skull sculptures
Sonny Skulls