February 3rd - March 3rd 2022
When does an artist produce his or her best works? Is it before the muse has met the goads of expectation, education and experience? Or is it later, when the detritus of the years is milled into a magical dexterity? A lightness of touch pervades these later works of John Scurry, now in his seventh decade. A painter of spaces – internal and external, the essentials remain constant. Exquisitely rendered objects are painted in scumbles of perfectly tuned tones, hovering around a colour note; slightly warmer, slightly cooler, barely visible yet vibrant with presence.
‘The aspect of depicting internal and external landscape spaces whether literal or suggested as in postcards or invented images has long been a factor in my work, a sort of correspondence or linkage between things.’ Collection Leads John Scurry Small Paintings Catalogue Essay 2019 (Geelong Gallery)
The playfulness evident in the still life paintings seems aeons distant from traditional nature morte with its implications of time and decay. Crisp rectangles of blocks or boxes are set against folded fabrics, a spray bottle of cleaning fluid, a drawing of his wife’s lips, some sunglasses, a plastic bag. As in all great painting, the source material is a mere starting point, and the mundane becomes a portal to the mysterious.
The painter will speak of the formal qualities of the work – of the relationships of colour, form and tone, the balance and rhythm in the composition or the quality of surfaces. These are of paramount concern. Yet ask him about any one of these objects and you will uncover linkages, associations and stories. They are old friends posing for him. These internal landscapes are landscapes of the mind; they open up a space of possibility and make room in a crowded world for the ineffable.
Collected in State and Regional galleries as well as prominent private collections, John Scurry’s most recent exhibitions in Canberra and his 2019 solo at Geelong Gallery have bypassed his home town of Melbourne. We are delighted to bring these new major works together in this important exhibition.
Alexandra Sasse 2021