Second Nature

An exhibition of paintings by Richard Dunlop

Ground Floor Exhibition - Second Nature is a selection of paintings between 1992 and 2005. Richard Dunlop states of his work, “...the act of painting is one of risk, and aligned to natural forces of creation and decay, change and continuity.”

Art Exhibition previously on at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery in Australia.
From Friday 30 May 2008 to Sunday 20 July 2008
Launch Friday 30 May 2008, 7.00 pm

Back of a Man Tattooed with Bouganvillea image

Published by anonymous on Thursday 10 July 2008.
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Richard Dunlop is, at heart, a well travelled rebel. This is best reflected in his art practice, as he believes “the act of making paintings involves balancing risk-taking with experience”. Dunlop first began taking these risks within his art practice in the mid 1980s – though considerably less experienced – when he “started blurring the interrupted traditions of botanical illustration, landscape and still life with the then moribund tradition of painting”. As he explains, “no-one else to my knowledge was doing it because every element of it was downright taboo, and collectively almost heretical…”

Second Nature is a selection of Dunlop’s work between 1992 and 2005, and is an insight into a man’s fascination with the possibilities of oil paints. Dunlop has an “enduring interest in how oil paint, as a substance, can be made to behave in infinitely varied ways,” and thus sets himself challenges in each work – takes risks that many other accomplished oil painters would not dare.

In inverting the traditions commonly accepted with botanical illustration, Dunlop has thrown out the rule book. This includes using “oil paint to mimic the qualities of watercolour.” Whilst watercolour has been “the conventional medium for recording botanical illustrations…and plein air landscape painting,” he has taken a new approach and used oil to create the “blotting and smudges, and transparency and translucent qualities.” Dunlop also allows himself to invert some established conventions associated with botanical illustration as an outshoot of still life painting, “not the least gender political and environmental concerns, and the constants of vanity, death, transience, opulence, decadence and hope.”

Dunlop’s works also explore the often unclear relationship between natural and artificial through the use of real and artificial objects. Upon reflection though, Dunlop believes his paintings are really about “beauty and fate trying to outrun mortality, and the constant presence of something that could disrupt or destroy it.”

While most of the risks Dunlop takes are well considered, some are quite the opposite. He describes painting as “an arena almost like a boxing ring…I don’t do preparatory drawings [and] the final paintings carry some signs of decisions made en route, erasures and changes of mind, remnants of under-painting all add to the ‘archaeology’ of a ‘picture’, an artificial thing like a novel or film.” The process, like his subject matter, is quite organic. Dunlop takes further risks by introducing random acts of violence to each work, and then attempts to resolve them, as would “occur in any natural settings.” Though, fittingly, he allows “earlier layers to persist…to give a sense of memories and the passage of time, just out of reach.”

And for all his risks, what is it Dunlop wishes his audience to get from his work? Simply put, “an insight, if possible, into some of the pleasure I experience in making such objects and connecting with other lives…an enduring image.” An image that allows people to view their own environment differently.