Fred Fowler: This is water

4th - 22nd August

Jan Murphy Gallery

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?” David Foster Wallace.

The   above   story,   taken   from   David   Foster   Wallace’s   2005   commencement   speech   at   Kenyon   College,   captivated my imagination  and  has  become  a  mantra  that  I  try  to  live  my  life  by.  It’s  a  constant  reminder  that  the  most  obvious and important realities are often overlooked because we don’t have the perspective to see them for what they are.

After the bushfires last summer when it felt like the whole country was on fire, it made me think about what is really at stake as we experience a climate crisis. The waterholes and caves that animals need to seek refuge. The specific habitats and ecosystems that threatened species need in order to survive. The fact that in some places if the temperature of the ocean rises by a seemingly insignificant degree, that we stand to lose a species of coral, giant forests of kelp, or permanently disrupt the breeding patterns of marine animals. Life that was thriving only a few years earlier could be gone forever.

I think paintings are an art form that can  be  visually  seductive  but  also  laden  with  potent  symbology,  and  once  you’re drawn in you can find deeper meaning beyond the allure of the surface. Hopefully by looking at my paintings, you feel like you’re gazing out of a window somewhere remote, unfamiliar and beautiful. Where the more you look, the more you start to notice interactions between flora and fauna, nature and the man made, and the impact that our way of life is having on the environment.

Sometimes  when  I’m  bushwalking  or  at  a  remote  beach,  I  stop  for  a  moment  to  look  around  and  can’t  see  any  people, cars, houses or man made structures. There is an otherworldly sensation that I would be seeing the same thing if this were 500  or  even  5000  years  ago.  The  feeling  of  time  standing  still  and  being  surrounded  by  nature  is  truly  magical.  We

are more than lucky to live in such a vast and wondrous country. This work is a celebration of what we have and what we need to protect. This is water.

ABOUT THE ARTIST

This is water is Fred Fowler’s second solo exhibition at Jan Murphy Gallery. Fowler graduated with a Masters of Contemporary Art from the Victorian College of Arts in 2012 andhas since been awarded the TWIG regional art residency in Swan Hill, Victoria (2014), the Sculptors in Schools Residency for the Lorne Sculpture Biennale, Victoria (2014), and the Artist in Residence in Clayarch Gimhae Museum, South Korea (2015). He has created murals and public artworks in Sydney, Barcelona, Berlin, Paris, Lyon and New York. His work has been acquired by the National Gallery of Australia, Artbank and private collections in Australia and overseas.

Image: Mooloomba Rd, Point Lookout2020, synthetic polymer paint and oil paint on wood panel, framed, 100.0 x 90.0 cm

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