These painted bronze sculptures are an attempt to subvert the preciousness and materiality of bronze (and my own likeness). I formed and de-formed, modeled, cast and re-cast my own image in various materials, making a sort of sabotaged relic of myself.
Courtesy of Jan Murphy Gallery
Winning the Archibald Prize as Guy Maestri did in 2009 would be a defining moment in most artists' careers, but he is quick to cite physical immersion in the landscape as revolutionary to his painting practice. It's easy to gloss over the history of plein air as a European tradition, born of gentle grasses and mild sunlight. Practiced in Australia, away from the slip of green coastline, plein air demands rigour of vast dimensions. For Maestri, the material and temporal challenges of extended painting sessions in the hard country around Hill End, Wilcannia and Broken Hill has been instrumental in a new understanding of local art histories and ecologies, as well as the atmospheric and elemental qualities of landscape. Beholden to intimacies of place, the artist stakes out a subtle void or stillness in these dry landscapes without surrendering his animated, almost kinetic approach to paint.
Masquerading as a shady retreat, the studio retains its disciplinarian attitude but demands a different kind of focus. Here the void is more theatrical, Maestri's compositions orchestrated with operatic tempo. Desiccated roadkill (the anti-trophy of inland highways) perform as contemporary Gothic vanitas, shot through with equal measure of beauty and pathos, the eye and the heart facing off.
A graduate of The National Art School, Maestri won the 2014 King's School Art Prize and the 2013 NSW Parliament Plein Air Painting Prize. He is a regular finalist in the Wynne Prize for Landscape at the Art Gallery of NSW and his work is held in several public collections, including The National Portrait Gallery and Parliament House collections.
painted bronze, concrete base
50 x 22 x 20 cm
Judges of the 2017 Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize: Djon Mundine OAM (Curator, Writer, Artist and Activist), Roslyn Oxley OAM (Gallerist and arts benefactor) and Alexie Glass-Kantor (Executive Director, Artspace, Sydney and Curator, Encounters, Art Basel | Hong Kong).
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