Fish Catch at Dawes Point, Sydney Harbour c1813
Fish catch at Dawses point is one of those paintings that just stays in your head. I have only seen it in the flesh once when on display at the Art Gallery of South Australia many years ago. What is it about some paintings that leave such a lasting impression? It must be the sum of all it's parts combined with the history the viewer bringswith them when they stand before the painting. The only thing I know bout John Lewin apart from the paintings I have seen (mostly reproductions) is that he is apparently Australia's first professional painter. This painting reveals the beauty of oil paint, it's rich, vivid, glistening colour still looks fresh and alive. The image is slightly surreal with the detailed realism of the individual fish contrasted with the unreal way some of them float in the picture space. Freshly caught fish cannot physically rest upon each other the way these fish in Lewins painting do. But they make it so much more engaging.
Some paintings have to be revisited. For me these include Magrittes In Praise of Dialectics and Peter Powditch's The Big Towel, both in the NGV. Sadly I cannot find a reproduction of the Powditch painting. It is a closely cropped female torso wrapped in a green towel and painted in a pop/Leger kind of way.
Another one is John Brack's Barber Shop (below left). I am not sure why I like it so much but the two men staring out are compelling . However, the one element that makes the painting something other than ordinary is that yellow lamp shade reflected in the mirror above the seated man. To show what I mean I removed it from the image on the right below. The painting loses much more than a little yellow lampshade, don't you think?
I love painting and looking at paintings.