Back from the pink salt pans of Lake Bumbunga (a Parnpangka word meaning ‘rain water lake’) and the lagoons of The Coorong (karangk - a Ngarrindjeri term meaning 'narrow neck') Gordon Bain returns to East Gippsland this week from the arid mid-north of South Australia to launch his exhibition.
His growing regional audiences and discerning collectors will not be disappointed.
Having spent a lifetime exploring rivers, swamps, lakes and sinkholes he has mastered the art of capturing the very essence of what he refers to as "a consciousness of birds migrating and the integral connection between birds and water".
"The country here is scraped back to the bone - it’s stark, worn and very beautiful in its own unique way - the marks made by wind, water and man stand out vividly.’
This new body of work with titles such as "Willy Willy, "Sere" "Cloudburst" and "Nest" taps into the narrative of drought, the devastation of the lower regions of the Coorong and the recurring theme of survival of species. There is an edginess in the palette - blood red and yellow ochres - and a raw energy in the underlying drawing that connects the layers and elements of landscape - birds, clouds, water, wind, sun, salt and sand.
There is both an intellectual and emotional response to nature intensely expressed in Bain's boldness of style underpinned by masterful drawing. Bain likes to "remove the superfluous" resulting in small but quite powerful works that, like nature itself, contain a complex set of tensions.
Rural and regional people who live closer to the migration and the seasonal life-cycle of birds have embraced Bain's art. They recognize the authenticity of his paintings and feel comfortable with the abstract expressionism and 'rawness' of his technical style.
Bain says 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 molds the landscape.
Layered networks convey the complexity of the landscape as a busy biosphere but there is also a flatness and stillness that give the work a meditative quality.
Study - Lake Bumbunga
Bain's style derives from a lifelong attraction 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.
He is intimately focused on nature in all its strength and fragility and connects us with a palpable intensity to his subjects. Its an aesthetic, cognitive, even spiritual range of attributes that give Bain's work a powerful and enduring quality.
Exhibition opens at the East Gippsland Art Gallery - 20th September 2018.
For specifications and prices contact Jo.
Words: JOMO Jo Moulton Mobile: 0413741426