Geoff Dyer: Selected Works from the Artist’s Studio

In Artist Profile 53, we commemorated the life of Tasmanian painter Geoff Dyer. For decades, Dyer's work across landscape and portraiture exemplified both expressionistic fervour, and a deeper, slower contemplation. A new show at Despard Gallery brings late works from the artist's studio to the audiences who continue to connect with his subjects.

In 2019, Dyer told Lucy Hawthorne that, in remission from cancer treatment, ‘what’s important is being here and getting on with your work…the exterior things fall away.’ The landscapes from Dyer’s later life which are currently on show with Despard attest to just this devotional ethic: energetic, painterly, and vital in their textured rendering of the sensate world.

Colour, in these works, is both ecological and emotive; it is what Dyer uses to register at once the world around him, and his varied attachments to it. It’s a way of mediating between the painter and the painted. Tasmanian Summer – Pink (2019) is vivid, almost saccharine in its celebratory tone. It is also elegiac. Particularly in the context of the bushfires which swept across much of Australia in the Summer of 2019-20, and in light of its being amongst the last paintings Dyer was to make, the deeper purples and ambivalent crimsons of this painting chime, melancholic, against the pinks.

Blue Series II (2018) also strikes at this harmony between joyful engagement with the natural world, and an apprehension of the loss which is layered, always already, into its ground. Between two flashes of white stretches a sea so smooth and deep it looks like polished glass: examinable, and in Dyer’s case, well examined. On the shore, in the foreground, a single wave of electric blue breaks across the rocks, and the exterior things fall away.

Geoff Dyer: Selected Works from the Artist’s Studio
10 March – 3 April, 2021
Despard Gallery, Hobart

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