Current Show running at Drill Hall Australian National University

Charlie Sheard


My paintings are pure abstraction. This means that meaning in my work is carried directly by colours, by materiality and handling of paint, by drawing (bodily energy) and arrangement of forms, but not by narrative or by associative relationship to any specific model or idea. In Pure Abstraction, the processes of painting themselves give rise to the painting. Kandinsky, who invented abstract painting, preferred the term real painting to the term abstract painting. Such painting is not a representation of something else, it is a manifestation of the nature or reality of painting itself, and therefore it is real painting. My paintings are an exploration of this reality. Abstract painting is the revealing of itself, which mirrors the revealing of self through being in the everyday world. 


Although I am very interested in experimental painting techniques, my paintings are also deeply engaged with the history and development of techniques and materials. My whole project is an exploration of ways in which historically significant painting methods can be applied to contemporary painting practice, and in how to combine such methods with the use of new pigments. In the watercolour paintings exhibited here, I have combined traditional pigments (including historical colours, as well as colours invented in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries) with recently developed metallic, pearlescent and interference pigments. I have also employed a number of rare and unusual mineral colours which have recently been utilised for watercolour 


The well known Chinese abstractionist, Huqinwu, is a personal friend of mine. The paintings in the China series were painted in his studio at the edge of Beijing in 2012. Other works (“Aition”) are from the AITIA series. The Αιτια, meaning causes or origins, was a long poem written by the Hellenistic poet Callimachus (Καλλιμαχος) in the third century BCE. The Aitia opened with the poet’s description of a dream in which he was transported to Mount Helicon and tutored in secret knowledge by the Muses. The poem was developed from there into a catalogue of the origins of ancient myths, customs and religious mysteries. Callimachus was interested in complex techniques, rare narratives, unusual words, and in surprising combinations of effect; his poem engaged with other important Greek literary texts by means of quotation, allusion and commentary. Although Callimachus dreamed of the Muses, almost everything he dreamt is lost. A few surviving fragments are all that is left of his Aitia, even though it was one of the most widely read and influential of all poems in the classical world.


Watercolour is the most responsive, but also the most technically challenging of all painting mediums. If my watercolours are my most sensitive paintings, they are also the paintings which lead me most readily to contemplate time and mortality. The difficulties of using watercolour are related to its re-dissolvability. This necessitates continuous improvisation and a constantly shifting response to accidental effects as they arise on the paper. Such processes are a reminder of the transience and fragility of our condition. The watercolour medium itself, so very ancient, seems to open up a deep vein of meditative silence, and perhaps this is linked to the history of its use in China. Certainly watercolour is the medium in which my interest in the relationship between Chinese and European idioms most naturally expresses itself. 


我的绘画是纯粹抽象。也就是说,我作品的含义是由色彩,材料和绘画的掌控,素描(躯体能量)和形状布置直接来表达;而不是由叙述表达,也不是由任何特定的模特或观念的联系来表达。在纯粹抽象中,绘画本身的过程导致了绘画。康丁斯基(Kandinsky)发明了抽象派绘画;他喜欢用真实派绘画(real painting)术语,而不是抽象派绘画(abstract painting)术语。这些绘画并不是用来代表一些物体,它们只是一种对自然或绘画本身现实的表现;因此它们是真实的绘画。我的绘画是对这样一种现实的探索。抽象派绘画是自己本身的展现,这也折射出日常生活中的自我展现。




胡勤武,中国一位有名的抽象派画家,是我的私下朋友。2012年我在他的北京郊区工作室完成了中国系列作品。其他作品(“Aition”)来自与AITIA系列。Αιτια,翻译为原因或起源,是希腊风格诗人Callimachus (Καλλιμαχος)在公元前三世纪撰写的一篇长诗。Aitia以诗人对梦景的描述开场;在梦景中,诗人被送到山上由缪斯教授秘密知识。紧接着,这首诗篇发展到古代神话起源,风俗习惯和宗教奥秘系列。Callimachus对复杂的技术,简练的叙述,独特的词汇以及它们惊奇的结合效果很感兴趣;通过引用,暗示和注释,他的诗篇渗透着其他重要的希腊文学文本。Callimachus梦想着缪斯, 可是几乎他所有的梦想都遗失了。一些仅存的碎片就是遗留下来的AITIA,尽管这是在古典世界中被广泛阅读和极具影响的诗作之一。



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