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Steve Woodbury

Dying from Birth


Steve Woodbury

Reality on a finer scale™


(Forever) Dying from Birth Winter encroaches, Upon the voids of seeming; The shame of the wise, Behind the masses Prophet; What was, eternally is.


Steve Woodbury / Painting and Prophecy By Jonathan Goodman

Steve Woodbury is an Australian abstract painter, whose powerful compositions suggest a painterly prophecy in regard to the world around him. The atmospheric expressiveness of his work is experienced through different series, which when seen together amount to interpretations and readings of the sublime, in a language made more beautiful by being connected to the history of abstract art. While abstract expressionism is no longer the only, or even the preferred, means of expression on the map, it is clear that Woodbury has aligned himself with a language still capable of subtle mysteries; the atmospheric effects of his earlier art suggest an awareness of color and form that would tie his sense of composition to the New York School. Internationalism in contemporary art has reached a point where the similarities seem to be thematically oriented rather than geographically tied, with the result that Woodbury can achieve remarkable effects that connect across history, in a way that does justice to those artists working similarly who have preceded him. So it happens that Woodbury balances his achievement within a sense of historical accomplishment, which lends gravity and weight to his accomplishment. >

1 Dying from Birth


The question facing Woodbury is not how much historical awareness can he bear, but rather to what extent can the mode of time support the complex elegance of his painting. He owes a lot to gestural flair, which offers his audience a kind of controlled extravagance and a painterly justification for his search for the sublime. I see him as coming out of a tradition best that includes painters such as Franz Kline and Cy Twombly, artists for whom the gesture is made to be as transparent and far-reaching as possible, so that the viewer feels the painting as a kind of mediation between humanity and some higher plane. As Woodbury has said himself, “If we wait until a painting speaks to us as Goethe suggests, then surely the experience is more rewarding than looking for familiar imagery that makes a ‘safe’ and ‘nice’ picture ordinary.” What follows from Woodbury’s art, as he himself asserts, is a “reality on a finer scale.” The structural universalism of abstract painting, in which color and composition and brushstroke are impressive for being representative of themselves alone, is handled extremely well in Woodbury’s paintings, whose hues cast a glow or second light over his esthetic decisions.

So the brilliant residuals of Woodbury’s paintings do not reflect nature so much as they subsume it, calling upon color and volume to speak in their own terms to his audience. Art does not become an excuse for representation as much as it stands in for intellectual and emotional ways of being that enhance our feeling for art and also for nature, even if we cannot decide on what exactly the artist is rendering. Abstraction is not necessarily more demonstrative of reality than figuration; however, what it does do is to insure us of the inherent substantiality of the imagination, which tends to be solely what this kind of painting is about. Woodbury titles one extensive series of paintings “In the Shadows,” suggesting mystery and indefinite morphology above the relatively more pedestrian task of likeness. In addition to the influence of abstract expressionism, there is some reference to Asian painting, most specifically the effects of Chinese art. In a recent example from the series Dying from Birth, Woodbury has created a long vertical field, essentially a scroll, in which black and pink flow down the expanse of canvas in thick and thin lines. In another suite of paintings from the same group, Woodbury offers black patches on white paper, the areas of black pulsing with energy bordering in its intensity on the erotic. The artist’s point of view here, as in most of his work, is that the composition is an open field, meant to startle the viewer and result in an awakened state of being. Woodbury’s sharp technique and fine sense of purpose enable him to do so on a regular basis. Jonathan Goodman

2 Opposite: Omnipotent Shadow (2004), Acrylic / Pigment on Linen, 210 x 180cm


3/4/5/6 Dying from Birth (2005), each is Ink / Acrylic on Paper 56 x 76cm


Steve Woodbury / 绘画与预言 Steve Woodbury是澳大利亚抽象派画家,他的作品强烈的暗示着他对周围世界 的艺术预言。他作品的气息在不同的系列中得以表达,总体的庄严诠释与抽象艺 术的历史相连。抽象的表达已经不再是唯一的手段,甚至不是最重要的。与此同 时,Woodbury仍然能将微妙神秘的物质清晰的表达出来。对色彩的感知和对纽 约学派的认识,构成了他的早期作品。现代艺术的全球化发展,导致了作品不再 由地域划分,而是由不同的学派和理论。因此,Woodbury在借助历史取得非凡 成就的同时,又能公正的对待他的前辈艺术家们。由此,Woodbury融合了历史 的成就,给他的作品增加了一份重量与成就。 Woodbury所面临的问题不是它能承载多少对历史的认知,而是时间的模式能在 多大程度上成就绘画作品的高雅。他强烈的表现力,令他的作品放纵中又不失严 谨,庄严而不失艺术。他吸取了艺术大师Franz Kline和Cy Twombly在 gesture 上的造诣,他们的表现力极端的透明和深远,令人仿佛置身于人类和天 空之中。 Woodbury曾经这样对自己说:“如果我等到绘画象歌德所说得那样对我 们说话,那肯定比寻找一幅熟悉而又‘安全’、‘美丽’的普通肖像更值得。” 从 Woodbury的艺术作品中不难发现,他自己所宣称的那种“精密标度上的现实”。 抽 象绘画中结构化的普遍性,颜色、成分、绘画技巧独立的留下痕迹,这一切都在 Woodbury的作品中得到极佳的表现。色彩在他对美学的独特认识中散发出光芒。 所以Woodbury的才气作品并不能昭显很多它所蕴含的本质,更多的是通过颜色 和容量表达内心涌动的思想。艺术不是被描绘成存在的智慧与情感的借口,即使 我们并不清楚艺术家所表达的内容,它依然加强了我们对艺术甚至自然本性的理 解。抽象艺术并不比图像本身更能代表现实,但是,它却能给予我们想象的固有 实质,这可能也是这类绘画唯一表现的。Woodbury给一系列丰富的绘画作品取 名为“影中”,象征着神秘和模糊的形态,而不是单纯古板的相似。除了抽象表现主 义的影响之外,也有一些参考了亚洲的绘画,尤其是中国艺术的效果。从最近一 系列作品“诞生中死亡”,Woodbury创建了一个垂直的区域,黑色和粉色在卷轴一 般的帆布上留下粗细不同的线条。相同系列里的一幅画 Woodbury将黑色的碎 布镶在白纸上,黑色的区域,环绕在中心色欲的周围,充满力量。画家这里的意 图,也出现在大多数他的作品里,即组成一幅开放的区域,震惊观众,从而唤起 存在的意识。Woodbury锋锐的手笔和对目标的感受,使他经常能完成这些空前 的作品。 Jonathan Goodman


7 Opposite is installation view of Dying from Birth (foreground 650 x 150cm)


8/9 Dying from Birth (2004), Each is Ink / Pigment on Paper 210 x 114cm


10 Dying from Birth, Floor Painting (2004), Acrylic / Pigment on Linen 150 x 700cm


11/12 Installation View of Dying from Birth


13 Theory of Everything (1996), Pigment, Metal and Oil / Board 30 x 27cm


14 Omnipotent Shadow (2005), Acrylic / Pigment on Linen 210 x 180cm


15 Omnipotent Shadow (2003), Pastel / Ink on Paper 76 x 56cm


16 Omnipotent Shadow (2003), 3 Sizes: a) Photograph, Edition 5, 80 x 120cm b) Photograph, Edition 20, 60 x 90cm c) Pigmented Archival Print, Edition 40, 36 x 52cm


All Images, the Poem and the Book Š Copyright Steve Woodbury 2005. All Rights Reserved. steve@stevewoodbury.com

www.stevewoodbury.com

Design / MonchoDavey Studio 4 / 151 Foveaux Street Surry Hills New South Wales 2010 Australia Telephone 612 9356 3466 www.monchodavey.com.au

Production / Octopus Solutions Unit 3 / 1-3 Apollo Street Warriewood New South Wales 2102 Australia Telephone 612 9999 0315 www.occy.com.au


China 2005

Shanghai Art Fair


Shanghai