This will appear as the catalogue introduction for Warwick Fuller’s upcoming exhibition at Lost Bear Gallery, Katoomba. The show opens on October 4, 2014.
Warwick Fuller has painted the Australian landscape for over thirty-five years, during which time he has built a solid reputation for himself, with more than sixty solo exhibitions and numerous awards and accolades.
Fuller has deviated little from his now-recognisable painting style, endowing his works with a sincerity and authenticity that is refreshing and laudable. He has remained indifferent to fleeting artistic trends. Instead, Fuller’s work is timeless and universally appealing. He has tirelessly and obsessively painted his way to a remarkable intimacy with the Australian light and landscape. Fuller doesn’t force himself on to the landscape before him, distorting it with his own moods, and thus forcing himself on the viewer as well. Neither does he simply replicate. He captures the pure joy he feels when seeing- really seeing- the scene before him, and does so in a way that is transferable to the viewer. He paints more than the visible landscape, something that often escapes the eye: the landscape that transcends location. His is the nature that is not only matter but, to quote Jung, “also spirit”.
For several months now, Fuller has found himself less able to paint outdoors and has made fewer painting excursions, thus his subject matter has shifted. This exhibition features predominantly local Blue Mountains and Hartley landscapes, together with works painted around Sydney Harbour and regional Victoria during 2013. Confined to more familiar environs, Fuller has, alternatively, experimented with composition and perspective. In works such as The Inexorable Shadow he pushes the horizon line to the very edges of the composition, or even more boldly, as in Luminous Shadows, Tinkers Hill, he has eliminated it completely. Others explore the endless variations of light and weather that characterise his corner of the world. Some works are slightly more abstract than usual, such as the enthralling Forest Sunrise, Barmah, in which a burning mass of orange and yellow pushes its way between mauve tree trunks, and could be either distant fire or sunrise, without the title’s clarification. It is a painting whose subject matter is the sheer miracle of our natural world.
The exhibition includes both small sketches painted on location, en plein air, and their larger counterparts, completed in the studio, such as Echoes of Cullenbenbong and its sketch. The inclusion of both gives the audience a fascinating glimpse into Fuller’s working process. The sketches, painted quickly to capture the elusive light conditions are thus much looser and exhibit an enviable confidence, yet also a startling humanity. They are almost private, a confession of his love and passion. The larger works are more refined; he may have altered the composition, adding details, amplifying the atmosphere and saturation of colours. Not because nature is deficient, but as a defence of it, so that we can see it more completely. They are full of life and a world unto themselves.
Warwick Fuller’s works are so much more than a praiseworthy mastery of paint. They give hope that in this technological age, we will never forget our emotional connection to the earth and the reality of our dependence and interconnection with it. His paintings not only celebrate nature but moreover, the ability of humankind to celebrate nature and to be better for it.