Portrait of Katrina

James Kearns


Artist Statement: My paintings are a visual documentation of my life’s experiences, explorations and influences. With 10 years in the graphic design profession, form, colour, and composition play a major role in my work. My art combines these fundamentals with personal attributes such as intuition and emotions. Viewing my work has been likened to looking out of a car window. The eye is taken on a journey across and around the canvas focusing in and out to reveal new elements each time a painting is viewed.

Medium: Mixed media canvas
Dimensions: 198 x 118 cms
Date: 2016
Condition: New

CHG Director's Statement: James Kearns continues to explore more the animals than portraits with this exhibition. The paint application and the effects achieved give the artwork more energy and excitement and he understands the importance of space surrounding a focal point! He lives and loves the country, as such he expects much from it, it is all encompassing. Whilst growing up in the city his relationship with the bush is where his comfort lies. One day he takes me about 50 klms out of town to one of his favoured painting areas; what the country means to him! No doubt there are a few places he gains an awareness of his person! His observation of trees, river banks, colours, textures, birds, animals, sky, water and the earth itself all speak to him, driving him to paint. It’s more than a recording of these experiences I see, but a raw emotion being the fire within his paintings.

Notes by Kit Messham-Muir - Associate Professor, School of Design and Art, Curtin University, Perth: James Kearns draws upon archetypal iconography – birds, bulls, a fighter, a rugged landscape. And like Osmond the definition of his subjects is nearly lost in the looseness of Kearns’ semi-abstracted rendering. The bird at the centre of Kearns’ 'The Bird Played In The Bushes Of The Mehi', 2016, is echoed in the marks that suggest the tree and the background. To the left of the bird a roughly rendered twig reverberates with the line of the bird’s back, while to the right the form of its tail repeats across the lower portion of the image. The bird itself almost disappears. Although only one bull appears in this current exhibition, they are a recurring image in much of Kearns’ work. We can draw an obvious line from Picasso’s recurring use of the bull as motif, but Kearns’ bulls are very different. These images of bulls immediately evoke a kind of raw and particular masculine strength. Kearns’ bulls are muscular beasts, charged with potential energy and danger; yet in Kearns’ paintings their lines and tones are often broken and fragmented, diminishing the sense of power we might immediately perceive with that of defenselessness. Similar to the rendering of vulnerability in Osmond’s figures, Kearns’ paintings often create a tension between their expressive technique and the subjects they depict.

Perhaps one exception to this tendency in this exhibition is Kearns’ portrait of Katrina Rumley, until recently the director of the Moree Plains gallery. Rumley’s impact on the northern New South Wales town of Moree, which is also where Kearns now lives, is long-reaching. Kearns’ portrait captures in Rumley’s face the kind of robustness it takes to get things done in a sometimes tough regional town like Moree. Here both Kearns and Osmond play interestingly with toughness and vulnerability, creating images that hold the tension between the two.


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