“Men of Matter” is an exhibition comprising of three male Australian Artists. The exhibition to be held at Red Hill Gallery in March will juxtapose the very different stylistic approaches of Dean Reilly, Dan Mason and Kristian Mumford to create a fresh and dynamic exhibition showcasing these talented artists’ works. Artchat has caught up with these three prior to the exhibition to get the low down on what to expect. DEAN REILLY AC: What inspires you to create? DR: This world that I live in.
AC: Do you think your style and the direction of your paintings have developed and evolved throughout your career? DR: That is the whole point of my art. Evolution, specialization is for the insects.
AC: How did the career choice of becoming an artist play out for you? DR: I think it is both genetic and environmental. I really didn't have to make the choice, it has always felt to me the choice was already made.
AC: What are your top 5 albums and artists you like to listen to while creating? DR: I don't listen to music while I create, I find it too governing. If the music is calm the art is calm, if the music is high energy the art is high energy. If I had to make a choice and paint to music it would be to "Miles Davis"
AC: In 2011 you were a finalist in the Archibald and Doug Moran Prize; would you say these are your biggest achievements to date? DR: I have been a finalist for the last three years in the Doug Moran it has been more of an honour rather than achievement.
My greatest achievement is always the current piece I am working on.
AC: What inspires you to create? DM: I'm inspired to create on many levels; there is of course that burning desire to embrace and reflect the incredible gift that is life. I cannot get enough of painting. If I'm invited to a party and there's work to be resolved in my studio I'll most likely choose the isolation of the latter.
AC: This body of work in the upcoming exhibition is different to your past work, can describe the process of this new development in your work? DM: I've spent 25,000 hrs painting full-time. This long journey has taken me to places light and dark, internal and external. Now I feel that I'm in a place where all the light vibrations can be tapped into instinctively - they flow and work creates itself. Can I breakdown the physical processes involved in my work..? I am just beginning to learn what drives them. When I truly understand them I will teach them.
AC: How did the career choice of becoming an artist play out for you? DM: Grade 0ne art prize - 1977 :-) It goes without saying, but I will, that we are all born creative. Drawing and in particular 'colouring-in' always excited me. Professionally..? I never thought it was possible to be an 'artist' for a job!!When studying Psych/Visual Arts at uni I worked part-time in a photographic studio where they shot glamour make overs.
My job was to crop the negatives and when the film prints came back I 'retouched' all the wrinkles, blemishes etc from peoples skin directly onto the print with a size 00 brush and photo retouch dyes.
This was an amazing art-form as one could only 'increase' density and not lighten the print, so erasing a bag under someone’s eye was not an option. This craft required the blending away of this darkness and creating the illusion of lightness - and it worked !! Lights and make-up could only do so much.
In the late nineties this craft became redundant with the advent of digital retouching and non-film photo paper.
I'd built 200 skateboards, a lot of furniture and large picture frames from old railway sleepers in my garage during this time and did a market stall at the beach briefly as well.
I commenced a carpentry apprenticeship living out of my van on the Sunshine Coast but when offered a job back on the Gold Coast running a small Picture Framers I jumped at the idea of being able to shower every night again. I left this after a year and worked for three years for a much larger art gallery/framing warehouse where I pushed and pushed and pushed the directors to sell some of my art. They eventually folded and gave me a small commission which their client loved. Then a bigger one and so on and so on.
Despite winning a picture framing award at national level and being the go-to custom framer, my only yearning was to paint.
I gave the framing away and became that self-employed artist guy in late 2002. Since then I have, like most artists do, struggled from time to time with finding consistent income.
My love for the processes of artistic expression always pull me through. The idea that people are drawn to and hang my energy on their walls is nice too. I'm forty one - If I were a cricketer I'd have put down the bat, but I'm an artist and the journey has really just begun.
AC: What are your top 5 albums and artists you like to listen to while creating? DM: At the moment, I'm embracing triple J radio again. Popular music is in a very healthy place right now.
If I'm using my saws or pneumatic tools I'll have my headphones on with my go-to album on; AC/DC 'Back In Black' - I can never get tired of this 1980 masterpiece. The history of rock n roll can be defined, in my opinion, as 'pre' and 'post' Back In Black'. AC: What do you hope your art means to your collectors? DM: Every feeling is purely subjective so whatever they feel they feel - this is out of my control and not for me or my ego to dictate.
KRISTIAN MUMFORD AC: How would you describe your artworks? KM: I’m a 'new gen' visual artist in the tradition of Australian figurative and landscape painting. I count my landscape architecture as art too. My paintings are individually described, and my work generally is hopeful; at least in a small way that its beauty will promote a return of standards in visual arts with my image of strength, passion and grace. My individual paintings are more important than being 'artworks', because they have the truths of colour plus value, composition, brushstroke, multiple points of focus, and squinting.
AC: What inspires you to create? KM: I do a painting for the joy and peace of it. I think this honest answer echo's the beliefs of many artists. In my teens, the Australian impressionists were my first heroes. At about 16, I remember talking to master Alfred Engel about it. 1800- 1960s Figurative realism is inspiring. I’m usually inspired by my greatest love, Mother Nature! This includes the personification of soul, as feminine! I’m inspired by this theme and to advance the understanding that great art begins with expressing it poetically through mastery of all aspects of technique. I think it’s a mistake, some makers of art and self indulgent artists try and 'find' a subject and prejudice concept to paint/draw etc. If you look hard enough at tea leaves, you can eventually find the Virgin Mary.
AC: You paint a lot of females, what are you aiming to capture in depicting this type of subject matter? KM: 'Females' is not a 'type' of subject matter nor am I aiming at a message. I paint/draw because I feel like it. My work is actually diverse, and includes male and female portraits, landscape, genre and subject painting. Take "Asya's Butterfly" for example, another composite piece made by juxtaposing a classic nude and a butterfly. This might sound like a weird answer to some people but I usually don't have a message I'm trying to communicate through my art work. I usually just do a painting for joy. If anything, I aim to provide a responsible view in opposition to the current 'ugly' bizarre art establishment. I prefer to conjugate the body, than put it in a position to be vulgar. It’s a mistake that some critics and connoisseurs of art try and find a message or pointless underlying subtext in everything. Viewers sometimes approach with prejudice and pre dispositions (e,g, their own male ideological pressures on the female) but if you incorporate my art work into your life by buying it, and look inside yourself, your psyche/personification of soul, as feminine (as I spoke about before) you will see there is a higher purpose for one’s beauty - the purpose of shining your light as a gift, free from cultural or power restrictions.
Art is supposed to be spiritual and sacred in that it leads us to a deeper, broader, more honest awareness of what, and why, we are. The arts, if they’re properly fed, can help our world avoid a crash and burn; and if they’re not fed, and we do crash, it will be the arts that lift us back up again.
AC: How did the career choice of becoming an artist play out for you? KM: I am third generation young apprentice master at just 32. Fourth gen if you count my great grandmother who was a pianist. I prefer this terminology than the derogatory attribution's "emerging/mid/establish career artist". I’m an artist 'being' not artist 'becoming'. I'm also a person not just the 'artist'. Being a decent man, and my work in landcare, is more important than being a visual 'artist' Master Zbukvic told me. Creativity is a 'gift' to me, that’s the way I see it, I just do it. I have practiced skills much like a singer with scales, but it’s not what makes somebody part with their hard earned cash. I talk to many people far and wide who take the time to engage in conversation and treat me like a friend.
AC: What are your top 5 albums and artists you like to listen to while creating? KM: Too many to mention; I like Sting, Jim Keays, a lot. I like making my own music too.
Easy Star All-Stars- Dub Side Of The Moon (Pink Floyd)
Quantic - One Off's Remixes And B Sides (2006)
Maurice Massiah - Seventh Heaven
AC: As an artist, what has been your biggest achievement to date? KM: I have several shows a year and I’ve exhibited internationally. I like my privacy, and my studio is private. I consider these achievements. Also, Deans Merit Award twice at the South Australian School of Art, and In 2012 I entered a portrait into the Archibald of famous Musician Jim Keays. Jim has cancer, and it showcased in the Victorian Cancer Council. I was the Ipswich Just Nude prize Winner twice plus People’s Choice, and have sold my work as far as Sweden, but actually my biggest achievement is to just be a man, let the sun set on me, and when the darkness comes, let it be a womb to me. Love is all we are. The rest amounts to nothing.