Travel to the other side of the globe without ever leaving New York City with the exhibition Out From Down Under & Beyond. Catch a glimpse of the Oceanian art world and perspective in this show consisting of artists native and migrant to Australia and New Zealand. The works in the show range in style and medium, offering a unique insight into those artists' backgrounds, inspirations, and environments.
Ysabelle Dauguet’s paintings explore spatial dynamics, overlaps, and intersections where people and space meet. Dauguet was raised in Mauritius but moved to Australia when she was fourteen. This change and the need for adaptation which it engendered had a profound effect on Dauguet and has affected her work ever since. Her paintings depict a constant negotiation, a process of trying to traverse space through complex line and mark making, which leaves a viewer trying to retrace the artist’s steps, searching for quiet in a composed world of chaos.
Color plays a significant role in the construction and success of Dauguet’s paintings on canvas, which are composed of both acrylic and oil paint. She is interested in the unconscious and the way in which color affects emotions. The chaotic nature of the bright repeating colors emphasizes how the hard-lined architecture in the paintings decays, collapses, builds, and grows infinitely. This asymmetrical composition initially infers instability, but on consideration can be seen to represent the mastery that Dauguet’s brush has over her fluctuating painted realms.
Linden Dean describes herself as a “contemporary naïve artist.” She is largely self-taught, but has developed a signature style of highly stylized paintings of bold color combinations. Using ink, watercolor, and washi (Japanese paper), Dean tends to work in a playful mode of bright, eye-catching hues, sometimes incorporating traditional motifs or textured backgrounds. Although her paintings are wildly imaginative, they are replete with narrative possibilities. She hopes that her work demonstrates a sense of humor at times, and the visual absurdities found in her paintings not only speak to this humor, but also help the artist to comment on a variety of social issues. One issue consistently addressed in her work is that of social expectations of women. “Some people articulate verbally, but I like to express myself through images rather than words,” she says.
Linden Dean grew up in Bairnsdale, Australia, where she currently resides after having spent 14 years in Melbourne. In addition to being an artist, Dean has made her life's work as a primary school teacher.
Inspired by 19th century Romantics, shamanism, and the raw, untamed beauty of his native Australia, Colin Grant’s works address the complexity and multi-layered nature of today’s culture. His subjects relate to talismans or guides, serving as allusions to transformation, flight and passage. His portrayals are deeply interpretive, often viewed as poetic metaphors of life’s divine mysteries. “I have been concerned… with creating a narrative of two worlds; the visible, and the invisible, and how one deepens and intersects with the other,” says Grant. In this, the artist employs his brush and the relationships between his chosen colors to ascend to the sublime.
Grant fluidly shifts between thin, transparent layers, drawing on what he describes as calligraphic brushstrokes. Contrasting definite forms within indefinite space, he creates an expanding, healing serenity to soothe and compel. From abstract to figurative, Grant achieves a visual narrative through mood, atmosphere and sequence. Each subject is explored and, under the artist’s skillful hand, reveals the underpinnings of what the viewer may regard as real. He confronts irrationality with a reasoned eye in works that are truly evocative.
Megan Harmer builds a new folklore of ancient and exotic places with vivid symbolism in her lively paintings. Often inspired by her dreams, travels, and interest in ancient cultures, the artist employs graphic blocks of fiery reds, bright blues, and earthy yellows to portray captivating landscapes and resonating symbolism. Harmer overlays bold, calligraphic lines and jeweled pointillism atop her lush shapes of saturated color whilst gorgeous metallic accents can be also be seen to illuminate the surface. This bold and fluid style paired with the subjects of the pieces, often cultural emblems of Spain, expresses the movement of moments captured in time - of flamenco dancing, the sound of the Spanish streets, the roar of the bullfighter’s ring, or the twang of the acoustic guitar. Harmer shares her Spanish-influenced ideas and cleverly executes them to create an abstract impression. Through shape, line, color and intricate detail, the compositions of her time spent living in Spain are revealed in all their beauty.
For Tracey Harvey, the “movement of color and shapes” is the source of her work’s form and energy. She finds those colors and shapes to be “just like the constantly moving landscapes we all live in,” and her dynamic abstract images capture the spirit of those landscapes. In her paintings, done in oils and acrylics on linen and canvas, she lets her colors flow in a way that gives them a life of their own — such that the paint itself often seems to be in motion. She says that she fell in love with oils because of their “smooth, buttery texture,” and that interest in texture contributes to the flowing, liquid quality of her images.
For all of their energy and spontaneity, however, Harvey’s works are the result of a meticulous process. She builds her paintings by applying multiple layers and thicknesses of paint, using palette knives and brushes as well as other implements to give each image a powerful physicality and varied surface texture. The resulting pieces pulse with life on many different levels and create an engaging, many-leveled experience.
Harvey's work has recently earned her two awards in Italy and invitations to exhibit in Milan, Tokyo, New York, and Barcelona.
Hilary Hatfield’s abstract expressionistic paintings immediately pull viewers into her world, revealing different facets of their composition over time. From their bold, vibrant coloration, to their expressive tactility, flow and balance, these pieces reflect the artist’s hope that viewers will first look at the details, allowing their eyes to travel over the piece with ease, before focusing on the abstract composition as a whole.
A well-traveled individual, Hatfield was born in the UK but spent many years in Africa before settling in Australia. Her work is largely informed by nature and the wilderness of both the African Bush and the Australian Outback. She describes with pleasure the way that both places have dramatic weather, exciting shapes, new textures and breathtaking colors. Abstract painting allows Hatfield to interpret these elements freely, so that her final pieces are open to the imagination and elucidation of her viewers. To that end, some of her paintings can be hung either vertically or horizontally. Hatfield prefers that nothing inhibits the viewer’s freedom to explore and discover. When it comes to experiencing these paintings, limitations would certainly be a shame.
Ian Kingsford-Smith sees himself as a visual storyteller. “In my art practice,” he says, “history, personal history, memory, family records, ambitions, fantasy, dreams, mythology and spirituality” all combine to create enigmatic narratives. They are detailed but do not tell one explicit story, rather they tap into the viewer’s imagination and evoke a multitude of possible storylines. Each of Kingsford-Smith’s images evokes a larger story and meaning through his ability to play subtly with color, line and scale. In his black-and-white etchings, a finely developed sense of line gives each work a precise balance, although the situations being illustrated can assume an almost magical, hallucinatory character. In his paintings, intense reds, greens, blues and oranges add a level of energy.
Working in a variety of media, from etchings, to acrylics and oils on wood, to linocuts, Ian Kingsford-Smith says that employing such a range of materials gives him the opportunity to realize his vision and bring it vividly to life for the viewer.
Jimmy James Kouratoras
A self-taught artist of dual Greek and indigenous Maori decent, the work of New Zealand-based Jimmy James Kouratoras speaks to the double-consciousness that mixed heritage entails in today’s day and age. His work characterized by bright contrasting colors, drips, mark making and layering, Kouratoras is a fan of images within images and fortunate mistakes. He works primarily in acrylic on canvas, and glazing is an important technique in his work, highlighting yet again the power of juxtaposing forces - in this case, transparent and opaque hues. Heavily influenced by the spiritual beliefs and culture of the Maori people, his work sets its anchor in indigenous belief systems centered around human beings’ connection to the earth, ancestral wisdom and transcendental knowing. Layering, says Kouratoras, holds an esteemed place within Maori culture, and this is something reflected in his complex yet inviting creations.
Jimmy James Kouratoras was born in Pukekohe, New Zealand and has been painting for over 25 years. The artist currently lives in New Zealand and works out of his Auckland City Studio.
Throughout Ludmila Kouzmin’s expressively evocative architectural landscapes one finds keen observation and an appreciation for structural details and space, as the artist discovers an organic balance between function and aesthetic. Heavy with atmosphere and mood, these buildings are comfortably settled into their surroundings, harmoniously taking a peaceful yet active role in the natural world. Weather holds a subtle presence within Kouzmin’s works, infusing her paintings with a sensitivity to the soft diffusion of sunlight and air and the quiet power of gathering storm clouds. Kouzmin paints in oils on linen or canvas, initially drawing upon photographs but repeatedly refining her focus in layers of color, texture, and geometry of place to achieve her artistic vision.
Born in Dresden, Germany to a family of Russian descent, Ludmila Kouzmin spent her early life in a refugee camp before relocating to Australia where she later built a successful career lecturing internationally on Russian linguistics. An enthusiastic artist since she was a child, she studied at the University of Melbourne and now exhibits worldwide with works held in private collections throughout Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Sandy McLean’s images of the Australian Outback are unique in their deeply felt poignancy. They show untouched, wild nature that also happens to be right outside the artist’s window. In acrylic, pen, and pencil, McLean creates vibrant close-ups of both people and animals. She captures horses mid-gallop and birds on the verge of taking flight, and mirrors their raw energy in her compact, dynamic compositions. Colors are wild and bursting with light. Movement is central to the work, as different attitudes, postures, and motions are vital to the way of life of each species. One characteristic of McLean’s art is the individuality of her portrait subjects: man, cockatoo and cow all fix the viewer with intelligent, curious stares in these canvases. They have personalities. In painting her own viewpoint, McLean gives us a view unparalleled in its intimacy. Her images are not only observed, but lived-in.
Sandy McLean was born in Outback Queensland and today lives on a cattle ranch near Marlborough. Her authentically Australian work is displayed in galleries and at events throughout the region.
As a medical doctor, Christine Read has long been inspired by botany, and this passion for nature is reflected in her colorful, sometimes abstract, paintings. Inspired by Impressionism, her work, which makes use of both acrylic and oil paints, evokes joy. Her still lifes invite the viewer to enter each scene and share the bountiful, rich colors she employs. Read sees her work as a ‘pictorial documentation’ of the world around her, and draws much of her inspiration from a visual journal she fills with sketches, reproductions of work, and information she has collected.
Though she has lived in Australia most of her life, Read spent eight formative years in South Africa, where she became fascinated with tribal design and the exuberance of the people there. Read is also influenced by big landscapes and the sea, which she considers to be inextricably linked with her own identity. Read is a member of the Lennox Arts Collective, and her art has been shown in numerous exhibitions, including the Byron Classic Art Exhibition, Caldera Art, and The Border Art Prize.
Australian photographer BJ Runningbear is careful to document and celebrate the environment around him with every image. Vibrant scenes filled with life and color take over each of his photographs. His pieces are as much an aesthetic celebration as they are documentary. Dramatic sunsets and even vast aerial views populate his images. With a particular focus on landscapes, especially the varied scenery of his own country, Runningbear captures beauty in the ordinary. His photographs show the viewer the world as it is, providing the viewer with the opportunity to explore. Strong diagonals or horizontals shoot across each image, splitting them into fields of texture and, in some cases, mediating the line between abstract and familiar. Patterns of grass, dappled light, or a single moment in a bright, ever-changing sky are accentuated in each piece.
BJ Runningbear regained his sight via pupil transplants after years of blindness, and each piece clearly communicates the artist's refound fascination with the world around him. His goal is to capture all he sees, and even some things he does not, with his camera.
Samantha Yallope typically works in oil on canvas or board and occasionally acrylic. Semi-figurative and vibrant in hue, her works border on illustration and certainly express Pop sensibilities at times. As symbolic renderings of the human soul and psyche, in all of its prismatic fluctuations, her works straddle many levels and speak in many tongues. Working in stages on up to five paintings at once, Yallope is interested in the shadow realms, and unearthing the truth that defines our real selves. Of her works she remarks that they offer “purity of expression, they are a vibration, the birth point of some energy in my subconscious finding its first translatable form.” Whether working in fine layers of paint or thick solid color, Yallope aims to find that visual space where the conscious and subconscious coalesce and integrate, with results that resonate with the viewer both intellectually and emotionally.
Born in Wembley, England, artist Samantha Yallope lived in London until moving to Brisbane, Australia. She has shown her work professionally in exhibitions throughout Australia for the past seven years.