Ask a bunch of artists why they paint and the answers will be as diverse as they are illuminating, as West Gallery Thebarton discovered.
For its SALA exhibition, Approaches, the gallery asked 13 contemporary local artists to describe what drives them to paint. The responses from the established and emerging artists are as diverse as their practice, but what the artists share is a personal relationship to painting.
Take James Dodd, for instance. For him, painting is instinctive. “Being driven to paint is an animal thing for me,” Dodd says. “I’m a pig for colour… I experience great joy and an intoxicating disconnection with the world while I am applying paint.”
Like Dodd, Margie Sheppard finds painting completing absorbing. “Painting offers adventure, discovery, hope, intoxication and a state of being lost in the world,” Sheppard says. “Whether thinking or doing, there is the connection with the work and a disconnect with whatever else is happening around me.”
For a number of artists, it’s the medium and the process of applying paint to canvas that they are attracted to. Christian Lock, for example, is driven by the possibilities paint offers and a desire to push the boundaries of painting.
“I’m driven to paint because it’s such a malleable medium,” Lock says. “You push and pull paint around and it transforms, it shows you something. It could be abstract or representational, an image or an object, analogue or digital.”
Anton Hart also cites the process of painting as an important element of his practice. “In my paintings, the meaning of the work lies less in the final images and much more in the cancellations, erasures, and the stuttering click of the images being made.”
John Foubister is similarly intrigued by the process and says it’s the physical nature of painting that is key to his practice. “When painting I feel that my body has a compulsion to make particular movements with resulting marks. The imperative of the body, the notion of paint as mud, and the inherent tactility of paint are rewarding characteristics of the process.”
For many of the artists, their practice is an emotional outlet for what’s happening in the world around them. Brigid Noone’s work in Approaches is largely new stuff that follows on from Essays of Love and continues to reflect her experiences of intimacy and love.
Like Noone, Jordan King uses painting to explore emotional and personal reactions to her environment. “Painting is a creative outlet and meditative endeavour.” Tara Rowhani-Farid’s rationale for why she paints is simple. She says: “I paint for the thrill of it.”
While the artists featured in Approaches may paint for different reasons, they share a love and respect for the medium of painting. The exhibition celebrates the art of painting and highlights the diversity and talent in contemporary South Australian painting.
West Gallery Thebarton
Until Sunday, September 2
Header image: James Dodd, Mill Painting