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Charlie Sheard Solo Exhibition:
Paintings on Paper

3 – 18 December, 2015

Co-hosted by Van Rensburg Galleries and ZZHK Gallery

Charlie Sheard is one of Sydney's most well known and respected abstract painters. He has held more than fifty solo exhibitions in Australia, Europe, the USA and China; his work is represented in public, private and corporate collections throughout the world, including at MONA in Hobart. Charlie Sheard worked in England for seven years in the 1980s and has lived in Sydney since 1990. He recently exhibited at Unit One Art Space at 798 in Beijing. He has lectured at the Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts, and regularly lectures at the Art Gallery of NSW and the University of NSW.
“Charlie Sheard, Ten Years of Pure Abstraction, 2006 to 2016” is scheduled for April 2016 at The Drill Hall Gallery at the Australian National University in Canberra. This survey exhibition will be curated by Terence Maloon, well known for his important Art Gallery of NSW exhibitions such as “Picasso, The Last Decades” and “Paths To Abstraction”.
Words from the Artist
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.

For further information and to enquire about the artist and artwork, please visit Van Rensburg Galleries website.

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