Martin Browne Contemporary is delighted to present a new exhibition of paintings by Neil Frazer.
Neil Frazer’s paintings traverse the terrain between abstraction and figuration. Rocky outcrops and shadowy chasms into which the viewer is drawn dissolve into richly textured abstract passages of virtuoso painting as we approach the canvas. Eroded cliff faces in a harsh palette of desert reds and browns are mirrored in still billabongs, in which the reflected sky has been drained of all colour by the searing heat.
First finding acclaim as an abstract painter, Frazer has used his textured and often muscular painting style to present us with a view of nature rarely seen within Australian contemporary painting. Frazer’s landscapes began to appear following an artists’ expedition through Central Australia’s Larapinta Trail in 2006. Faced with a dramatically different environment to any he had previously experienced, the artist sought to articulate the harsh dry landscape, the wind-weathered rocks, the sharp shadows, and the heat-bleached skies reflected colourlessly in billabongs, chasms and gorges. Following subsequent trips to Central Australia, Frazer embarked on further explorations of the coastlines of Tasmania and Victoria, returning each time to his studio to capture the grandeur and rawness of the country’s oceans and shorelines.
There is a seductive physicality in these paintings. Built-up layers of paint encrust the canvas creating a tactile attraction that bridges the gulf between sight and touch. By contrast, the absence of information in the crisp white areas of sky and water allows the viewer to complete the picture using their own experience and imagination. The grandeur and scale of Frazer’s subjects resonates with romantic notions familiar from that particular tradition of landscape painting in which the plight of the adventurous soul is shown in all its ruggedness but also in all its tenderness. Yet Frazer’s dramatic images could only have been made by an artist experienced as an abstract painter and able to bring a 21st Century eye and sensibility to his subject matter.
Born in Canberra in 1961, Neil Frazer grew up in Hamilton, New Zealand. In 1984 he completed a Fine Arts degree at the University of Canterbury’s Ilam School of Fine Art in Christchurch before going on to study at the Studio Art School in New York on a Fullbright Travel Grant. Since moving to Sydney in 2000, Neil Frazer has completed a MFA by research at COFA in 2004 and has continued to exhibit in both Australia and New Zealand. A Wynne Prize Finalist in 2010 and 2011, he is represented in major collections including Macquarie Bank and the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, as well as numerous private collections throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Press release courtesy Martin Browne Contemporary.