Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ian Fairweather

I was in Darwin recently where I photographed this lone, weathered chair. The negative spaces and the lines reminded me of the work of Australian artist Ian Fairweather who, in 1952, made a raft and launched himself into the Timor sea from the very beach where I took this shot. Most people who know anything about Fairweather are familiar with this journey in which he drifted dangerously for weeks before landing in Indonesia. He is known for his style that, while blending influences from cubism, aboriginal art and chinese calligraphy, offered us something so wonderfully unique especially considering that most of his best work was completed in isolation from the art establishment of the day. Fairweather was a restless traveler and later a recluse painter, choosing to paint out the rest of his days on Bribie Island, off the Queensland coast. But, putting myth making matters aside, a Fairweather painting is, to any painter, a treat to behold. It's all about those restless marks that dart and weave all over the support (which is most often cheap cardboard). These are works that truly make one want to dive in. Fairweather creates densely layered and disrupted surfaces that, when one casts ones eye across the picture, has the sensation of settling for a moment in quiet spaces or anchor points of line, shape or colour before being propelled onward - like a kite, I suppose. I love that feeling of delicious movement in every rapid fire stroke or wandering line. I'm never far from the idea that I'm witnessing a language, a very personal communication system containing fragmented memories of far off places or conversations with vines, undergrowth, strange animals or landforms. These paintings reveal a rich, personal world of a very great and brave painter.

In his own words: Painting is a personal thing. It gives me the same kind of satisfaction that religion, I imagine, gives to some people.

Well, amen to that!

House by the Sea 1968

Flying Kite 1958
Sytnthetic polymer paint and gouche on cardboard


Sophie Munns said...

Love this post UP! I took the liberty of directing people from my blog to this post as I felt it was very much worth sharing!
Thanks for the inspiration!

Undercover Painter said...

Hey, thanks Sophie. Glad you liked the post. Fairweather's work has always been with me, right from childhood. Though I have to admit, while compelled to look, I was always a little frightened of it I guess because every brushstroke was intense as was Fairweather himself, I imagine.

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