Waterline by Geoff Dyer opens on Wednesday 17 February 5:30pm
Walking along Ocean Beach last September after a sojourn in Europe, I had doubts. Firstly, why do I keep returning to this strip of wild coastline? But, more importantly how do I kick-start my work? Why was I there? Is it being a sixth generation Tasmanian that this isolated strip of land and water seems to provide me with a sense of psychological ownership, childish notion perhaps, but for me a necessary one. Ocean Beach is a muse for the ever vulnerable.
For the last six years I have been lucky to avert the gloom of the Tasmanian winter to travel; painting and feeding on museums and galleries of the world with the relish of a small white pointer (alas an aging one). Sometimes over fed, but more than not left hungry, there is an overwhelming sense that the art world has let me down. There is no centre. Not New York, not London, and certainly not Paris. This, however can be a liberating factor, better equipped on ones return to paint without cringe or fear in the landscape you know accompanied by a few phantasmagorical artists of the past, and a few of the present.
I am an old fashioned painter, which simply means I use Paint, canvas, have a studio, spill red wine and, understand within reason the goings on of 20th century art. Therefore my view of the visual arts is a rather romantic one, disengaged from the hectic positioning of the young career artists filling the spaces, like corporate moguls, backed by the powerful but visually illiterate. So one returns home ready, defiant, but unsteady. On my most recent trip, Manet, Whistler and Scully were the artists who seemed to invade the inner-psyche for different reasons, but were committed to the idea that art exists, purely for arts sake. Manet’s slow sensuous brushstrokes, Whistler foggy indeterminate, views of the Thames, blue and sparse, Scully’s flat uncompromising abstracts.
So, it was from there that began a new series of blue and black paintings titled WATERLINE. They vary in scale, are all painted with the knife, and with a few exceptions are nocturnes. These are not derivative paintings of the sea nor are they abstracts they are basically studio-generated memories of Europe intertwined with the wild-ness of Ocean Beach.
Geoff Dyer 2016
Tas Weekend Article 13/02