Julian Meagher uses art to make sense of the world, charging his romantic compositions with difficult questions about masculinity, mortality and our nation’s self-image. His works speak to physical and social landscapes of Australia, the histories we inherit and how we reconcile our own place in those legacies as we move forward. Recently he became a parent, a development that has shifted his contemplations on legacy to more immediate matters. Experiencing life through the wonderous eyes of his children has given him pause – and a pensive new outlook that has also altered his relationship to painting.
His already sparse landscapes are now pared even further back, fading out to ambiguous colour fields. Less didactic and more lyrical than earlier works, they eschew representation in favour of evocations of moments – light dwindling through a window, a child’s laugh, storms out to sea. Viewed alongside his intimately-scaled portraits, they hint at the tension this new father feels – delighting in his children’s innocence, while knowing they’ve arrived into a world that’s never felt so uncertain. They suggest that while Meagher’s concern for the future remains, he has a renewed appreciation of what it’s all for.
For Marisa Purcell, paint acts as a medium between the empirical world of knowing and a release into the unknown. As she works, her method stretches paint’s physical qualities by combining thinly veiled layers of colour, allowing paint to pool and dry slowly. Through this she builds strange relationships of shape and scale while marking graphic rhythms at varying speeds and densities, risking awkward crises that stand as metaphors for everyday life.
Purcell employs her depth of experience with oil, acrylic, watercolour, and drawing media to conjure an internal landscape at symbiotic play with notions of micro and macro cosmologies. She says, “the most beautiful thing occurs when discord is integral to the resolution of a painting: there must be something at stake, or you haven’t pushed your own sense of what you’re capable of doing”.
Image: Julian Meagher – Light Matter 1, 2022, oil on linen, 183 x 168 cm