David Beschi is a watercolour painter at a time when the term is most likely to invoke thoughts of saccharine, amateur paintings of flowers. Yet he not only breaks the mould of his own medium, but stands out as a fascinating artist who uniquely and quirkily merges skill with humour and technique with expression. After a lifetime of painting, his body of work is hard to categorise: it is always beautiful, often funny, sometimes downright cheeky, occasionally nostalgic or picturesque, but what ties it all together is an exceptional mastery of technique and an ability to say a lot with very little.
Students at the Conservatorium exemplifies all of the characteristic talents that have become synonymous with Beschi’s work. Everything is minimal from the colours used, to the composition. Yet he manages to evoke a world of emotion and music and a palpable sense of aliveness. His paintings are not beautiful-but-static objects, they are experiences.
In Banquet Night, the chefs are swallowed up in the steam of cooking, in some parts becoming indistinguishable from their environment. This allows an otherwise busy scene to instead convey a sense of stillness and peace, of rightness, as though the chefs are given shape and life by their vocation.
The command of technique, colour and composition that Beschi displays in these and other works in this catalogue, cements him as one of Australia’s finest watercolour artists. Unusually, he is not an artist defined by subject matter, yet his landscapes rarely exist without a human anchoring them. His figures, almost always human-shaped forms rather than individualistic portraits, are instead universal portraits. For above all, Beschi is a painter of humanity.