Geoff Coleman – Painting Over Time

1 February – 28 March 2017 | WPAC

A finalist in the Benalla Art Gallery Nude Art Prize in 2014, this selection displays Coleman’s recent works. A Melbourne based artist who successfully delivers figurative paintings in a contemporary style.

Artist Statement –  Geoff Coleman 2017

The title to this exhibition Painting over time can be viewed in two ways: as a period of producing works and also as a process of working. For the latter, time often seems to stand still (to almost disappear) during the act of painting, for it encompasses a state of contemplation and challenge. This challenge however is a confrontation with angels and demons, uncertainty and struggle, while navigating along the many way-stops on the road to making art.

‘Lunch in Glen Iris’ and ‘Crash Carnegie’ reflect the focus of my first exhibition in 2007 of the Backyard Series, a group of paintings drawing attention to the forms and shapes of our built environment. These works hinted at the psychological paradigms of identity and place and the changing face of our ubiquitous suburbs over time.

‘The red pool’ and ‘The blue pool’ and ‘Persistence of geometry’ have been influenced by studies of the human form through life drawing. Forty-six years ago I first attended life drawing classes as an earnest young artist and it was invaluable for developing skills in composition and form and the study of light and shadow. It has more recently also led to explorations into the language of the body and the kaleidoscope of motivations and behaviours that encompass the complexity of the human condition. Study of the figure also evoke musings on the psychology of the self; there is little that is quite as existential as the nude.

‘Nineteen sixty-eight and on’ is a history painting on two accounts: it involves the harrowing image of assassination, which is particularly a part of the iconic imagery of the turbulent nineteen sixties, and it also shows segments of paintings from artists of the period whose work I hold in great esteem. During the campaign for presidency in the USA in 1968 Robert Kennedy uttered the words “… and now it’s on to Chicago and let’s win there” minutes before being gunned down while exiting through the kitchen of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He, like his brother John and Martin Luther King were lost to assassination and were openly mourned by many. They and other social and political campaigners of the 60’s, offered hope and change. The art of the period also canvassed change and opportunity and a new way of seeing the world. This is a painting I have had in mind for a long time.

The titles of some works are influenced by history: a history of songs. ‘How the light gets in’ references the lyrics of Leonard Cohen from Anthem in 1992 (‘there’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in’) and ‘She’s so fine’ references the Easy Beats song from 1965. The craftsmanship of music is a strong artistic ally.


image: Geoff COLEMAN, Existentialism, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 61 x 61 cm.