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Robert Simpson

Through his use of colour texture and light abstract artist Robert Simpson's recent paintings can be viewed as a continuation of the Australian landscape tradition. Rather than focussing on how the landscape looks he is more concerned with our relationship with the land itself investigating our shift from being part of nature to its domination and degradation. To investigate this distancing he refers to ancient myths religious stories history and scientific journals as well as natural and artificial objects to add layers of meanings in his paintings. Like most artists particularly abstract painters he works with symbols and metaphors using objects familiar or imagined often placed in a 'field' of landscape that is usually implied rather than carefully depicted. In some works Simpson paints metal machines and tools on dry eroded landscapes. Closer inspection reveals these tools and gadgets to be non-functional or even nonsensical. Here the artist refers to the addictive culture of new technology that grows above and beyond actual human need. These objects are used to illustrate the disconnection between man and nature that has resulted in escalating environmental problems on a global scale.

In the series of works based on the fabled inland sea that the early colonial explorers searched for in vain Simpson concentrates on the economic reasons for the expeditions namely the hoped for discovery of fertile land and abundant water for the expansion of the colony. Despite an apparent negativity in his work Robert Simpson also suggests a sense of hope and redemption through acquired wisdom and awareness be it scientific or spiritual. He achieves this through a sense of beauty using colour and balance by way of compositional form. There is also a feeling of fragility and disintegration of the symbols themselves merging with an ageless earth. This suggests all things must pass including mankind's adjustments to its own destiny.

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