Artist, activist, adventurer, photojournalist: although his life was short, Dan Eldon lived with voracious passion. Leading an aid mission across Africa, working as a graphic designer for Mademoiselle Magazine, publishing a book, directing a short film and creating volumes of extraordinarily insightful & powerful art work, all before 22 years, fatally on assignement in Mogadishu, Somalia.
In the pages that fill his expansive journals, Eldon reveals imagistic insight into his extraordinary perspective on the world. Filled with snapshots of his life growing up as a young expatriate in Kenya, explosive images taken in war-torn Somalia and detailed drawings of the world around him, the journals blend the photographic reality with the transient ephemera of his everyday to create a vivid blueprint of Eldon’s imagination.
The works’ multi-layered complexity recalls the photo collages of early 20th century artists such as Hannah Höch and John Heartfield. While both tell of worlds submerged in chaos, Eldon’s works seek to find equilibrium within the madness. From page to page, Eldon’s style and rhythm shift and evolve, reflecting his exploration of the world and his place within it.
The ingenuous, raw paintings and multi-layered sub textual arrangements could be said to evoke the spirit of Basquiat and contextual complexity of Rauschenberg; however, Eldon’s own Caulfieldesque disdain for affected pretense countermands any such canonical comparisons.
While the aesthetic beauty and sophisticated lexicon of the journal pages elevate the works to a reverential artistic level, the artist’s eye never strays from its place of unrelenting sincerity, reminding the viewer of Eldon’s uncanny ability to capture the present moment.
Dan Eldon’s legacy continues to grow through his words and images, inspiring others to realize their dreams through his spirit of creative activism. His extraordinary life is portrayed in the feature film The Journey is the Destination, produced by Kweku Mandela and directed by Bronwen Hughes; it is currently available on Netflix and all VOD platforms.