NOVEMBER 17 | JOHN MAITLAND | DRAWING THE LINE

ARTIST STATEMENT - JOHN MAITLAND

From a technical perspective, line has always been an important element in my work. Line, not only delineates parts, or all, of figures and landscape, but are a pivotal part of the composition itself, etching an emotional track through the painting. Delineating between good works and genius.

I use black line in conjunction with the natural movement of the hand, like a sensor of my own emotions. In more recent works I use both black and white lines to incorporate borders around the perimeters and bring the work together. This exhibition showcases an acknowledgment of what have become personal motifs of how I express myself. In past exhibitions the ballerinas are rarely depicted dancing. My interest is in capturing the apprehension before the performance itself, or quite simply, the elation or sheer exhaustion experienced after a performance. The kite, mother and child, girl and horse, the cricketers, all celebrate innocence, exuberance, freedom, and emotion. My imagination is continually given food for thought via my 10 grandchildren. There is never a dull moment and this exhibition showcases many of these moments combined with my imagination.

I’m often asked by others, where do I get the inspiration to paint? or " why do you paint what you do". Hopefully the following will provide an insight into the execution of my works.

I have said many times I don’t paint photographic images. I paint from my memory. I attempt to capture moments, feelings, emotions and experience. My work is a tapestry of everything I’ve seen and experienced up to this moment. Indeed, to borrow the quote, ‘history tells us art is not a mirror to reflect life but a hammer with which to shape it’! That's the way I prefer to work.

Things don't have to be dramatic or extraordinary to inspire. Warhol’s work is a prime example how painting the everyday mundane object can produce a masterpiece. Common place for myself is a mother embracing her child, we see it all the time, however capturing the moment with colour and being able to imbue a painting with the same depth of emotion as the actual moment… this is walking the line for me. It’s the fine balancing act of creating a nice picture or creating a work of genius.

My 1998 painting ‘Nothing Could Come Between Her and A Child In Need,’ is a brilliant example of how everyday events inspire me. I had read two books on the life of Mary MacKillop. I was waiting for inspiration to produce a work that did justice to all I knew about her, the board was sitting on the easel constantly undergoing changes. Whilst collecting my children from school one afternoon, students and teachers were looking up to the top of one of the school buildings. A young boy was on a second floor window ledge, extremely upset and refusing to come in to safety...and then a teacher leaned out the window and gave him a great big hug. I still clearly remember the look on the child’s face.

I worked all night long to ensure I held the memory of that moment, attempting to capture the depth of caring and the unspeakable bond I had witnessed. I strive to produce work which triggers memories and evokes emotion that viewers can identify with. In this instance, the incredible emotion of receiving a hug from a child. That’s when I feel my job is done.

Flying back into Australia from the U.K is one of my perennial sources of inspiration. I travel there often and never come back without marvelling at the size of the place, the fact that you hit Western Australia and still have seven hours of flying to go, amazes me every time. I am ready to start painting when I look down and feel the hum emanating from the land.

Years ago, I managed a team for a multi-national company throughout Queensland. It was pivotal in my art career. Having the unique opportunity to view much of this vast State from the flight deck of a Hercules aircraft whilst affording me the privilege of speaking and working with local Indigenous people was such an inspiration and so completely new for me. It has left an indelible impression on me which shines through in my paintings. For example, the Burdekin Dam in drought. The landscape throws gold everywhere with a thin slash of azure blue the only thing feeding the dam. Such an incredible view from the booming Hercules above.

Space and colour from all of these pivotal moments influence my work to this day. Drawing the line is an exhibition of technicality, merged with ingenuity, meets me!

- John Maitland, 2017.

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT - MARK WIDDUP

Just had another fight with bubble plastic, vigorous sticky tape and John Maitland’s individualist style of wrapping his artwork re his forthcoming November exhibition at CHG!

The figurative subject matter of his compositions possesses sentiment nostalgia and sensitivity! John is enveloped with expressionism! Yet on one hand there is a rawness about his paint surface which I’m sure stems back from his time travelling in the rural outback of Queensland. He captures a spontaneous landscape emphasizing texture set against the femininity of most of his figurative subjects. It appears the females tame the landscape in a Maitland landscape!

If he enters the male dominion, sports seem to prevail notably with the paintings of the’ boxer’, ‘cricketers’ they really contrast against the femininity of other artworks.

John is a strong family man with much of the inspiration for his painting revealed via his memories of his own children and grandchildren. It is the ‘unsaid’ about the figure in his art that attracts me to his compositions! Understatement, implied thought or discussion, and a comradery with a common purpose. e.g. walking as a family group, flower picking to name a couple. My response is always two fold to his art:
(a) How does John capture the body language with such a simplicity, so convincingly?
(b) He takes the viewer to a place, maybe a nostalgic place that perhaps they have not visited for years. There is a sense of time stopped! This all culminates in warmth when you view a Maitland painting. Some maybe simple define that is to find love!

Maitland’s art has strong appeal both nationally and overseas in the UK and Europe. I believe he sees humanity in us all and offers hope. His art can be understood and are comfortable living with no matter what other things are going around in our lives!

ARTIST PROFILE - JOHN MAITLAND

To learn more about John Maitland explore his artist profile here on our website.

DIGITAL EXHIBITION CATALOGUE

The digital exhibition catalogue containing exhibition introduction, artist statement and CHG Director's statement can be viewed here.