Artist | Richard Dunlop - Solander Box

Richard Dunlop has had a distinguished professional practice for almost four decades, and according to Curator Eric Nash has been instrumental for that duration for the resurgence of interest in, and making a highly original contribution to painting in Australia. Richard’s work is in the collections of several universities (QUT, UCQ, UTAS, Griffith), many regional and various major public collections (with in some cases, several works from various periods), and private collections of the highest calibre internationally ranging from dedicated art collections to movie stars like Hugo Weaving and Naomi Watts, sports legend Adam Gilchrist, corporates like Macquarie Bank in Sydney and New York, and even a former king of a South Pacific nation . Richard is a multiple finalist in national art prizes with varied genres of excellence expected, including the Glover Prize (Landscape), Blake Prize (Religious Art), Waterhouse Prize (Natural History, twice winner), Archibald Prize (Portraiture), Fleurieu Prize (Wine and Food), Doug Moran Prize (Portraiture), Tattersalls Prize (Landscape).

Richard also holds four degrees from three Queensland universities (QUT, UQ and Griffith), including two PhD’s (one in philosophy of education, the other in visual art, for which he received the Griffith University Medal in 2007 for Academic Excellence at PhD level. His paintings defy easy categorization. Dunlop has been celebrated for his constant painterly experimentations involving hybridizing traditions of genres of painting (landscape, still life, and even aspect of botanical illustration), and sophisticated subtle references to both art history and contemporary issues. His image-making has both an autobiographical edge, but the works also convey messages about the celebration of nature, and its many inflected forms, and offer sheer  metaphorical potential. He is one of a group of international artists which include Peter Doig, Miquel Barcelo, Cecily Brown, and Tal R, who have pursued their own individual lines of inquiry with heightened emotionally-charged colour, poetic observation, experiments with spatial relations and perspective, a rejection of the photographic, diaristic intent, and a conscious revisiting of time-honoured themes in painting resulting in a body of distinctive neo-romantic paintings that deify beauty and luxury. In this present exhibition, Big Water Views and Passion Gardens, Dunlop pursues the challenge thrown down recently by David Hockney who asserted that the remaining challenge for any painter these days, especially a landscape painter, is to try to convey the transparency, depth, and graceful movement of water in a new way. With sustained viewing, Dunlop’s creations subtly open up into a painting plane of great depth and multiple perspectives of viewing, sometimes shifting from both above and below water, and suggesting reefs in certain times of shifting light, or domestic water gardens with the occasional glimpse of languishing fish. A toe is dipped into the water of art history, with reminders of the inventiveness of other artists, from Matisse, Monet and Whitely through to the vertical landscapes favoured by Asian artists.

Other works in this exhibition involve complex “botanical” works which deal with a range of concepts including the balance and equilibrium in our relationship with nature, wabi sabi, the notion of ikebana as applied to the composition of a painting, and orchestrating the elements into a resolved arrangement. There is also the notion of a garden as an intersection between nature and architecture which Richard has explored since the early 2000’s. Richard usually listens to classical music when he paints, applying brushstrokes “as if they were musical notes, on show, multiple stations for eye”. At a certain viewing distance all of the small gestures of jewel-like colour begin to blend in the viewer’s eye whereby a wide range of pulsating forms, tones and shapes begin to form the final image with the viewer’s contribution. The artist returns to works several times over a year, adding countless layers of transparent oil glazes which create an unusual internal light to many works that critics have noted.

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