‘Paintings from Coogee / The Great Divide’ by Rebecca Gallo
Alan Jones’ latest exhibition Paintings from Coogee present some unusual takes on landscape and portraiture. Oddly haunting faces float on top of moody coastal parklands. Some of the heads are formed from thick, spaghetti-like coils of black and white paint, laid on like icing. The ends of the coils dangle like two-tone guts and nerve endings at the necks of these disembodied heads. These self-portraits place the artist in the landscape, but the disjuncture is extreme: he floats impossibly atop the varnished surface, as if attesting to the impossibility of really entering the landscape whilst observing and notating it. Although stylistically different, there are some distinct parallels in the explorations and struggles evident in Guy Maestri’s Great Divide. Like Jones, Maestri appears to grapple with the landscape as a perpetual outsider, locked in an ongoing quest to represent it honestly and meaningfully. His latest paintings are of disembodied heads of feral dogs and boars, as well as native birds and mammals. Unlike in Jones’ work, guts and gore are not abstracted: Maestri’s paintings are spare and brutal. A parrot’s head and wing are painted in, but the space where the body should be is a void, creating an unsettling disconnect between expectation and reality. The comfort of completion is disallowed in this harsh depiction of nature as a brutal and indiscriminate interplay of forces.
- Until September 13, 2015, Olsen Irwin, Paddington.
Rebecca Gallo, ‘Paintings from Coogee / The Great Divide’, The Art Life, 31 October 2015.
Link to: The Art Life