August 11 – September 30, 2012
Opening and meet the artist Saturday 11th August from 2pm
Maynard Waters is an exceptional artist capturing the essence of an Australia that he chooses to view with an intentional selective blindness. In doing so he presents a nostalgic and romantic viewpoint of the country and city through the workingman’s eyes.
His characters are dressed in the dark blue singlet of the chesty-bond-man whose chest has slipped more than a few inches. His women wear simple one-piece dresses often adorned with the ubiquitous apron. The kids wear shorts and T-shirts and are almost always barefooted. And then there’s the omnipresent dog, man’s best friend.
There are the pubs, the semi-detached homes, the bull noses and skillions of rusted corrugated iron with highly visible joints revealing patchwork-like rooftops – a sign of the times of standard length sheets, not cut to size like today.
What Maynard achieves with ease is what all artists strive for – originality. His genuine, if at times incomplete, views of the city and country are devoid of mass modernity – there are no office blocks or apartment buildings – but there are modern items such as road work signs in brilliant basic colours (rarely mixed) and modern cars, and communication towers and so on.
But these modern accoutrements do not detract from the settings or scenarios – those are of a distinctive Australia painted by a distinctively Australian artist, one who has travelled his country from the Sydney to Fremantle, to the back yards and wide, unpaved streets and laneways of countryside villages and properties.
His city scenes are often dominated by steps that he has previously explained will be “his undoing.” He probably doesn’t know why he revisits these in his work at irregular intervals. Perhaps they act as sub-conscious metaphors as the avenues for ascending or descending the levels of the so-called “classless” Australian society. Or they may be the physical links between the rags and riches, evidence of which is rarely present in Maynard’s paintings.
There are many observers present in his works, reflections of himself as the necessarily observant artist – he once took a room above the Woolloomooloo Steps and experienced what happened there.
A number of works in this selection highlight the artist’s desire to view his subject matter from a higher plane. His device is the colourful hot air balloon. The unique Oz humour is still there with balloonists dressed in tuxedos or with balloon baskets on the same level as a figure on an adjacent elevated verandah. The titles are often somebody’s dream like Elley’s or Nicholas’ with other titles like The Visitors and Think of This possibly alluding to an even more genuine Australian-ness, that of the satellite viewpoints of the paintings by Indigenous artists of their landscapes and the Dreaming stories.
Maynard Waters’ paintings have simple sketched beginnings that evolve into colourful, complex and technically effective blends of fantasy and reality, all wrapped in his unique and original takes on the lucky country.
His stylistic views of what at first seem to be nostalgic reminders of a unique Australian society are ultimately not locked into the period set by the buildings in the images. These scenes are at the same time of the contemporary landscape – just take a stroll down the streets and laneways of places like Balmain, Glebe, Blues Point, Observatory Hill, Paddington or Petersham or the historic precincts of many Australian cities and towns. Engage your selective blindness and you may well find yourself in a Maynard Waters canvas.
Stan d’Argeavel MA(Visual Arts)
Exhibition Coordinator, Bungendore Wood Works Gallery