Gordon Shepherdson’s recent works are painted from memory


With reduced mobility following a stroke, celebrated painter Gordon Shepherdson has remained committed to making the short journey to his studio and painting as frequently as he can. These most recent works have been painted from memory and, as a result, there is a strong emphasis on the emotional response to place. The places depicted are those that the artist would visit frequently on fishing trips, spending long hours waiting, calmly observing. The reliance on the mind’s eye, not just in terms of appearance, but also in terms of feeling, makes these works all the more striking. The heavy, black borders seem to conjure a vision from the interior.

Gordon Shepherdson, Australia 1934-2019 / Ocean with wind 2012 / Oil and enamel / Courtesy: The artist and Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane / © Gordon Shepherdson
Gordon Shepherdson, Australia 1934-2019 / Beach 2012 / Oil and enamel / Courtesy: The artist and Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane / © Gordon Shepherdson

Memory in itself is a horizon — the simultaneous approach and departure from the same line. This same line Shepherdson expands into a modified spectrum, extracted from personal light. Finger-born colour lays down water, sand, vegetation and sky. It is where he has been. It is also where he is going. To repeat in paint the visual echoes of a life. The viewer is the intermediate distance balanced on an intersecting line in the scape viewed. Silence is also a colour. Its porous nature filters seas and rivers of primary impact, which are a constant presence in Shepherdson’s thought and practice. Water ironically mixed with oil and paper. Age hems in what it knows the artist is thinking about. The actions of the hand are reduced to what the hand leaves behind. Memory places its bets with a compass instead of a coin. The odds framed in a black box made of enamel.

Installation view, ‘GOMA Q: Contemporary Queensland Art’ 2015

Subscribe to QAGOMA YouTube to hear stories by artists / Read more about your Australian Collection

Feature image detail: Gordon Shepherdson Beach 2012

#GordonShepherdson #QAGOMA