Denis Beaubois has fond memories of UNSW College of Fine Art (now Art & Design), where drawing was his initial medium as a student.
Now, spanning video, photography and performance, the multidisciplinary artist has been announced as the 2019 Create NSW and MCA Visual Arts Fellow – a grant of $50,000 ($30,000 for development and $20,000 for commission).
“As an artist, the recognition means a lot,” Beaubois says. “Recognition from your community is always good – it makes you feel that the ideas you are working with are also of interest to others.
“And the support means that I can further develop my practice by researching and consolidating some long-standing ideas.”
The Fellowship will enable him to return to his home country of Mauritius to conduct research into the island’s model of polyethnic nationalism, and learn new techniques in augmented and virtual realities in Sydney.
“This is important to me as, previously, my works have had more exposure outside Australia.”
The celebrated experimental artist has built an extensive international portfolio in video art and performance, and his current practice is influenced by economics.
Beaubois’ dynamic approach has been critically acclaimed, with work exhibited at TATE Modern, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art and Sydney’s MCA, while been awarded with two international art prizes to date.
He holds a Master of Arts in photography and performance as well as a Master of Fine Arts in Time Based Arts from UNSW. Looking back now, he recalls his time studying and teaching at UNSW as the foundation to his practice.
“I learnt a lot from my fellow students. There was a generosity with knowledge and ideas where people helped one another, a sense of cooperation over competition. All of this has influenced my practice.”
The former Video Arts lecturer says that there is an exchange between his practice and his teaching.
“Witnessing how students problem solve, experiment and push boundaries can be quite rewarding. In such situations, I also become motivated by them.”
Beaubois advises current Art & Design students that, while public recognition can be rewarding, it’s not the only marker of good art work.
“Do what you think is appropriate, and own what you do.
“Think long term and ensure you have a skill that allows you to generate an income so you can pay rent in the big smoke."