Joe Frost and John Peart Exhibition, Watters Gallery, Sydney, 2015

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Joe Frost


John Pear t

small works on paper



The years in which John Peart established himself as a painter were marked

The weaving together of elements is unique in each, and while I don’t think

deaths of painting and of the author, and the end of art itself were contested

all contributed to the vigour of his ongoing production.

by historical endings and theories of crisis in art. The end of modernism, the issues few artists would have been able to ignore during the ’60s and early ’70s. Even now, forty years later, I think that those ruptures exert a certain

pressure on artists, engendering anxiety about a creative act that is actually

the expression of a simple, necessary impulse. Peart, as I imagine him in the early years of his career, transcended the crisis. Following the debates and

working in an idiom of abstract painting quintessential to late modernism he was nevertheless able to give himself over to painting with the spirit of an

early modernist, with no reason to doubt that the future could receive him,

no reason to deny his enjoyment of all that is sensuous and enchanting in the form, or to curtail the play of his imagination.

Over almost 50 years Peart’s oeuvre established itself as a self-nourishing

organism, each phase of work propelling the next and extending the scope

of his originality, and in this way he demonstrated the newly urgent truth that the artist at work – not the museum or academy - is the point of continuity

between art’s history and its future. I hardly need to say that it’s an honour to exhibit alongside him.

Some of our works in this exhibition are drawings but I would prefer to call

most of them works on paper. I don’t know what Peart would say about it, but when line conveys a thought about form, it’s drawing; once form becomes

physically present through colour and layering we’re in the realm of painting. But however we might categorise them, the works are all experimental in character, commencing openly, incorporating unforeseen possibilities.

In Peart’s, most of which are from the 1980s with a couple from the ’90s and some from the last few years, I see forms and effects that are familiar from

well-known paintings in new configurations, or prised apart from each other

to perform alone; and ideas being generated, clarified or perhaps recalled in retrospect.

they were sketches to be followed exactly in another medium, I’m sure they When I first saw his work in the 1990s its so-called abstract properties –

relationships of scale for example, tonal transitions and variegated textures,

developed over years of reworking - conveyed a powerful sense of reality; an atmospheric space that evoked Earth and the cosmos as seen in the mind’s

Joe Frost and

John Peart

eye. Like the work of some of his favourite artists (Rembrandt, Klee, Picasso, Fairweather, McCahon) in certain masterpieces by Peart the distinction

between abstraction and figuration ceases to mean anything because the

painting draws upon such a broad span of experience and perception that it seems to encompass everything.

each artist with 21 works on paper

My early instinct that you could paint a place by turning away from the

landscape, going back to the studio and working directly with forms on


canvas was confirmed. I still think that any painter whose work is worth

An Exhibition:

like John Peart took for granted, and in the first phase of my career I have

13 January - 31 January 2015

looking at will have aspired to the liberties of formal invention an artist

worked toward an approach to figuration based more upon the processes and materials of 20th century painting than conventional representation;


in which subject matter can emerge through a synthesis of elements, with the potential for development, transformation and discovery that implies.

Perhaps rather than painting a figure or a landscape I am making a painting

from which a figure or landscape may emerge, and lately I have been starting

Opening 6 - 8pm Wednesday

do away with drawing from life. The range of observations that can rise to

14 January 2015

drawings with form rather than from a subject; although I doubt I will ever the surface through painting or drawing seems unlimited to me, and I am

continually excited to recognise subject matter in configurations that I have arrived at quite circuitously: building an image with intent, burying it out of dissatisfaction and restoring it in an altered state. Joe Frost  Sydney 2014

Watters Gallery

109 Riley Street, East Sydney NSW 2010  Ph: (02) 9331 2556 tues and sat: 10am - 5pm;  wed thurs fri 10am - 7pm 5.










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