It is like a breath of fresh air once you step into this new exhibition of John Klein. The bright and animated canvas invites you to his world of flora and fauna, enticing enough to forget that you are in the middle of the city. This show is his ‘Big Country’, where paintings of landscapes, animal portraitures and his beloved dog dominate the gallery of ArtSHINE located at Chippendale, Sydney. The exhibition is on the 5th of April until the 26th, and the gallery is hosting an Artist Long lunch on Sunday, the 23rd of April.
Klein’s use of colours on his landscape paintings is quite spontaneous. His canvas is his palette, mixing directly varied tubes of strong colours to produce an impasto and ‘dreamy’ sequences. The inclusion of roads on the foreground brings forth depth to a rather flat surface.
The painting The Escape #1 is worth mentioning since according to Klein, this was his first try on painting fires. The aridity of the landscape against the backdrop of cyan brought the harsh reality of the Australian landscape. All the more, with the juxtaposition of the burning bush brought drama to the whole picture. In turn, the canvas solicits emotion and maybe for some people, an afterthought.
The animated paintings (or portraitures) of animals are worthy to grace the limited edition stamps of Australia Post. The painting entitled “Mooney” brought a different perspective that is interesting and captivating. The cephalic tilt gave an impression of depth liking to looking through a fish eye lens. Technique wise, the wide and spontaneous brushstrokes gave textures and fluidity, quite reminiscent of a French impressionistic painting. The strong use of cerulean and royal blue in the background reminded one of Brett Whiteley’s use of fearless colours such can be seen in his painting, The Balcony 2.
The painted Chicken series were quite interesting. The use of the birch panel is ingenious! The paintings looked fresh and organic. Don’t let the simplicity of the subject fool you, Klein’s technique of directly mixing his paints on a surface that is unforgiving delivered a two-dimensional effect, with its textures ‘popping out’. Tactile feedback is tempting. Such great effect and curiosity had arrived if Klein intended to have this result when he painted this series.
Worth mentioning and all the more seeing, are the series of feathered creatures painted using gouache. Klein mentioned that this was the first time that he used this medium yet the result was impressive. The use of gouache is challenging since an artist needs to play with its opaqueness and different values when it dries. This medium results in heavy and texturised surfaces. Time is also an issue since such pigment dries very quickly hence famous artists like Turner used this kind of media, for example, to capture a setting sun to give his paintings that unfinished, spontaneous, dramatic feel. Klein’s paintings possessed these qualities maintaining that tangible invitation coupled with the use of bold, warm colours.
The exhibition runs until the 26th of this month. Seeing this exhibition is a good excuse to take a pause from our busy lives. With vegetation and fauna as the main inspiration for this show, one cannot but reminisce a warm experience in the countryside. Take heed to John Klein’s invitation to see his ‘Big Country’, who knows? You might just like it.
About the art historian and writer – Norman Domigpe
My name is Norman Domigpe, and I love anything that is related to art. Since being very ‘artsy’, I tried everything when I was little. Tried dancing, failed. Singing, failed. Played the piano and violin, failed. Painting, failed. But the history of art intrigued me big time, so I started collecting and writing about art. I believe that art is the only medium that affects all the senses.
I am undertaking postgraduate studies under the program, Masters of Art History from The University of Adelaide. I finished a graduate diploma course on Art History from the Art Institute London and attained an undergraduate degree in Psychology.
I am a member of The Art Association of Australia and New Zealand, the national professional body for art historians. Member of the Art Gallery Society of NSW, National Art Gallery in Canberra, The National Gallery of Victoria and The Art Gallery of South Australia.
As a writer, I have written reviews on Aboriginal, Australian and Contemporary Art and I contribute some of my works to ArtShine Gallery.
You will see me around, especially on exhibitions. Would love for you to say hi.