Gordon Bain 'Bird Water Man'
Ibis on the River Flat Acrylic on Board 40x40 cm (sold)
"I like to strip back to the bone - remove the superfluous"
"Brolga's dancing on paddocks covered with sheets of water and a profusion of frogs, 'plovers' and water rats " feature in Bain's earliest memories of his adolescence spent exploring swamps, lakes and sinkholes. He recollects " a consciousness of birds migrating and the integral connection between birds and water".
It is one of the greatest phenomena of nature and it has drawn him to Walpa on the Mitchell River upstream from the Gippsland Lakes where he is immersed in a profusion of birdlife on the river, marshes, creek beds and lakes. From his studio there are rising clouds of white Cockatoos and Ibis. There are fat belly-laughing Kookaburras and delicate Egrets lightly gracing the distant fields. There are three pet dogs and a Bantam rescued from the 'horrific night of the python'.
Rain Shadow - Landscape with Empty Water Tank Acrylic on Board 83 x 83 cm
There is a gentle calm to this man who is at peace with his world and his art. Throughout his career Bain has supported himself as a freelance book illustrator but now, as a fully matured artist, his focus is on painting. He has exhibited in galleries in Queensland, New South Wales and in recent exhibitions in East Gippsland he has been embraced by discerning art lovers and collectors.
Figure in Landscape 2 Acrylic & Graphite on board 40.5 x 40.5 cm
His work has a linear, abstract quality. There is a boldness of style underpinned by masterful drawing. There is also a complex set of tensions in his work - an emotional and intellectual response to landscape and birds that goes well beyond the picturesque.
Like his heroes, American abstract expressionist Mark Tobey, (a precursor to Jackson Pollock) and Australia's master painter Ian Fairweather, he has been drawn to Asian calligraphy, Japanese printmaking and the totemic elements of tribal art. His drawing skills have been developed early at the Julian Ashton School in Sydney and later at The University of London where he attended summer master-classes. According to Bain he..
"works backwards out of a painting" and 'with a limited palette which makes me work harder and think more."
He starts a painting by gouging into the tough ply board with a boot maker’s awl, creating a textured surface into which he layers pigment and marks. It is a process of "mimicking nature" and working the surface in the same way that erosion moulds the landscape.
His strong lines create layers and networks that convey the complexity of the landscape as a busy biosphere. At the same time, he uses an intense but restrained colour palette. This adds to the flatness, stillness and the meditative quality of his work.
Swimming in the Creek Acrylic & Graphite on board 40.5 x 40.5 cm (Sold)
Human forms, like totems, float sideways into the composition against the landscape, not in it. Bain evokes a 'disconnect' between man and his natural environment. There is a consciousness of all that is fragile in the biosphere where man has lost touch with the tidal 'ebb and flow' and the seasonal rhythms of nature.
'Man In Striped Shirt' (Acrylic and Graphite on Board 40 x 40 cm) (sold)
and 'Snapshot' (Acrylic on Board 15 x10.5
Gordon Bain photo
These miniature portraits are testament to Bain's deep understanding of artistic traditions and his contemporary sense of 'less is more.' These are reminiscent of ancient 'death-masks'. The subjects or, maybe self portraits, stare out of the shadows with the mere 'bones' of a likeness. The result is 'universal man' - sailor, prisoner, wide-eyed youth, aging man. These are archetypal images.
This artist celebrates all that is exquisite in nature, in particular, the remarkable interconnection between bird, water and man.
Wuk Wuk Bridge Winter Acrylic on Board 40.5 x 40.5 cm (Sold)