Richard Dunlop

A new series of paintings by Tasmanian-based artist Richard Dunlop, presented at Hobart’s Colville Gallery, explores ideas of connection ­– to place, to history and to oneself.

It was Roman philosopher Cicero who declared, ‘If you have a garden and a library you have everything that you need’.  Dunlop’s botanical paintings build on this idea through their layered references to lived landscapes and art history. Titled ‘Gardens in the Mountains, Somewhere Near Deloraine’, the works distil the artist’s observations based on time spent in North Queensland and Tasmania’s north, where he recently relocated. Gardens and bush paths glowing with southern Tasmanian colour and light expound Dunlop’s newfound sense of place. The paintings chart the enduring seasons of the natural world alongside the short-lived seasons of one’s life – relationships, transformation and renewal, or transient states of melancholy or elation.

Hybridising the long-established landscape, botanical, figurative and still life painterly traditions, Dunlop explores the interconnectedness of all things. The trope of the garden represents the paradoxes of ‘civilised’ life. The artist explains, ‘Gardens are the perfect intersection of nature and culture; a form of architecture posing as nature. They are attempts for people to be grounded, but they are very much about control and order.’ While gardens act as remedies to our increasingly urbanised lives – affirmations of nature and places of escape – they simultaneously symptomise this urbanised reality. They embody humanity’s insatiable drive to tame, trim and control the wilderness; of nature and of ourselves.

Traversing an alchemy of imagery and multiplicity of perspectives, Dunlop’s diverse approach to painting parallels the nuances and textures of his own life; his output forming what he terms ‘a personal evolving garden’. Much like an expressionist, he paints in concentrated bursts, followed by periods of long contemplation before returning to them again. He often etches the paint and uses up to forty transparent layers to create luminous refractions of light. ‘To paraphrase Fairweather’, Dunlop explains, ‘I like to make a mess and then make sense of it.’

Richard Dunlop | Gardens in the Mountains, Somewhere Near Deloraine
18 January – 5 February 2019
Colville Gallery, Hobart

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