Steve Tyerman

An Island In The Sun

July 31 to September 4 2021

The imagery in Steve Tyerman's new body of work fosters warm, escapist thoughts of a haven beyond everyday concerns. He tells that the title of the exhibition, An Island in the Sun, refers to the special relationship Australians have with coastal regions. ‘There is something magical about being on the edge of this huge island and looking out to the vastness of the ocean and what lies beyond - and beneath. Despite the ocean's enormous life-force and the hustle of holiday makers along its beaches, the shoreline has a strangely calming effect.'

Characterised by an intense involvement in the materiality of paint, Tyerman's art communicates an essence beyond the strictures of traditional landscape painting. ‘I want to create pictures that make my visual and emotional experiences palpable on the canvas,' he imparts. ‘To this end, I'm always conscious of balancing two main aspects; the powerful, or poignant, evocation of the subject that inspired the work, and the need for the matrix of paint to be vital and alive. My aim is to create a compelling visual image in and of itself - one that exists independently of the subject.'

Tyerman describes his process as ‘quite intuitive and haphazard'. ‘You never quite know what is going to happen when trowelling thick slabs of oil paint. If the work is looking too illustrative, I will disrupt it with more paint. I'm after an abstract effect that feels like the subject from up close and engenders a sense of realism when viewed from afar.' He explains that the realism he wishes to convey isn't that of a photograph but rather, something that relates to real life, to how our eyes and brain function when surrounded by nature.

‘I used to find scenes and paint them, or more often the scenes found me,' continues Tyerman. ‘While I still love to paint en plein air when I get the chance, these days my time spent in the landscape is more often about absorbing as much as I can, just looking, a lot of sketching, thinking and taking photographs, gathering information. Although the outdoor experience is vital for me, my favourite place to paint remains in the studio where there are no distractions, no dealing with the weather and all my materials are readily at hand.'

‘A lot of spatial invention goes on when composing a seascape,' Tyerman reveals. ‘Unusual perspectives, multiple viewpoints, changes in scale and even different times of the day or various weather conditions are sometimes amalgamated into a single image. It's about portraying an ecosystem rather than just the observed scene.' The work, From the Beach to the Bay, typifies this objective. Spatial ambiguity and the potency of his palette knife's passage animate our visual sensibilities. Incongruously huge, colourful flowers arch one way across the picture plane; the long wooden stairway leading down to the sea, another. Numerous rugged headlands jut out in diverse directions from the central mass. It is a composition alive with radial energy! In contrast, the Back to the Beach painting has a contemplative ambiance. Here, a few windswept Pandanus cling to a rock-strewn foreground. In the distance beyond, the ocean surges towards a pristine coastline. The vista conveys a sense of timeless sanctuary.

Tyerman's paintings encourage the viewer to extend perception beyond manifested form. We want to linger over the images and share in his immersive experience of place. ‘My endeavour is to convey the awe and wonderment I have for nature and the intense passion I have for rendering these feelings into art,' he tells. ‘I also hope to create pictures that will draw you in and take your eyes on a journey so you feel as if you could almost step into the landscape and explore it for yourself.'

JACQUELINE HOUGHTON

 


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