OUT/ABOUT: Julian Meagher ‘Drinking with the other sun’ & Anh Do ‘Man’
Julian Meagher in ‘Drinking with the other Sun’ and Anh Do in ‘Man’, now showing at Sydney gallery Olsen Irwin present emotional portraits of men in a raw, yet endearing way, their subjects floating in white space, in paint on canvas. Meagher’s work is ephemeral and ghostly, his subjects reverent, fragile and blurred presences while Do’s men are physically arresting, thickly layered to command space beyond the confines of the canvas.
Sydney-based artist Julian Meagher’s exhibition, ‘Drinking with the other Sun’, is a collection of ethereal paintings layered with a recurrent exploration of the male figures pivotal to the artist, his understanding of masculinity, the evolution of Australia and the legacy of our history.
Although Meagher’s medium is oil on linen, it is his combination of precise linework combined with delicately controlled leaching and dripping that mimics the character of watercolours. It’s a technique that softens the features of faces, the gnarliness of flora and gives dimensional purity to the collections of glass objects.
‘Drinking with the other Sun’ explores the Australian identity by placing male figures that are personally connected or historically known alongside the native flora of Australia and that of our imperial motherland. The history of forefathers portrayed against the hardiness of the Banksia and contrasted with the iconic English Rose (at once delicate and prickly), metaphorically referencing British influence on our national identity. The stoic depiction of Australian masculinity is portrayed by Meagre as an exploration of vulnerability.
Portraits include those of the artist’s cousin Leighton whose father was a matador in the 1960s in Seville, as well as portraits of the great great grandsons of explorers William Wentworth and William Lawson, and the grandson of Sydney Harbour Bridge engineer John Bradfield. Meagher also includes a self-portrait in his father’s shirt.
Meagher comments; “As I’ve grown older I have become much more aware of how both personal and collective inherited history shapes our identity, especially in relation to contemporary Australian masculinity.”
Anh Do‘s first solo exhibiton, ‘Man’, is a collection of densely painted portraits of friends of the artist, with creases and crevasses speaking of full lives touched by beauty and pain. Do, a well known comedian, actor, writer and television personality has found his solace in painting.
Complementing Meagher’s preoccupation with masculinity, Do explores the paradox of human nature, exploring that mysterious place of enlightenment behind our public facades and the emotional duality of men. As Do puts it, “I try to pick people if I think I can show the whole story in their faces… It’s very intuitive, I am just looking for those lines between the guy’s eyes or something in the mood he is giving off’.”
Rugged, deep furrows, with flyaway hair and craggy beards are decisively painted with confident brushstrokes, impasto style. Colour accentuates the intensity of Do’s masculine faces in ‘Man’ as they float on their canvases allowing for no distraction from the commanding yet almost familiar subjects.
Julian Meagher ‘Drinking with the other Sun’ & Anh Do ‘Man’
Olsen Irwin Gallery
63 Jersey Road
Woollahra 2025 NSW
Until 10th May 2015
Credits: Courtesy of the artists Julian Meagher and Anh Do and Olsen Irwin Gallery