Tony Lloyd: The Distance


There is something compelling about driving on a deserted country road at night. It’s a liminal space; anything can happen. But painter Tony Lloyd first became aware of the potential of nocturnal journeys in the darkened space of the cinema, rather than on a road trip.

The Melbourne-based artist describes being transfixed by the POV shot of headlights on a two-lane road which opens David Lynch’s 1997 film, Lost Highway. 

“I thought that would make a great painting,” he recalls. “Shortly after that I went out driving at night with a camera rigged up in my car, hoping to capture something like what I saw and felt watching that film.”

Lloyd uses photographic source material and then transforms it into paintings of roads and mountains that do have a distinct cinematic feel, something he deliberately intensifies by simplifying and blurring his scenes.

“There is an aura of anticipation that surrounds cinematic imagery,” he says.

“Establishment shots at the beginning of new scenes are very interesting images because they show a place where nothing is happening now, but you know something will happen there very soon. The image is pregnant with a sense of what will come.”

This feeling of suspense is cranked up a notch in the artist’s paintings of asteroids, hovering above roads illuminated by headlights. For Lloyd, these enigmatic images are more about the human experience and imaginative possibility than impending doom. “Driving at night feels like a cinematic experience,” he explains. “The way the headlights constantly reveal only a few metres of road ahead is also like a metaphor for life: we can only see so far ahead into our future. The rear view mirror is completely black, just as the past is gone forever.”

The Distance
Tony Lloyd
Gallery 9
17 May – 10 June

Preview Words by Tracey Clement