It's about time the prophet is heard in his own town. And if anyone wants to read the writing on the wall, just go to Gomboc Gallery and view this exhibition. Juniper's paintings, ink drawings and prints, hung throughout the four ground floor rooms, speak about line and colour, music and texture, the beauty found in our own landscape but most of all, about joy and life. And to those who think they're so sophisticated there's nothing else to learn from this man's art ~ grow up.
Each room has it's own ambience although one is hard pressed to move beyond the twelve panel Lotus Drift: Arnhem Land beautifully displayed in the front room to greet us on entry. This impressive work of 12 panels is inspired by the real subject, decorative Japanese screens and music. The lotus leaves, reminiscent of round oriental fans, are depicted in gold and silver leaf and float in rhythmic eddies through cool water. It is both delicate and powerful as it fills our field of vision and inspires contemplation. I hesitate to go on about this magnificent work of art, words would only get in the way of enjoying the viewing experience. It must be seen and appreciated for what it is, not for what is written about it.
Juniper's most recent works reveal all the signature elements of his oeuvre. This is noted by comparing them with the artist's earlier paintings and examples of his prints in the third and fourth rooms. It's as if he is revisiting all his stylistics in his new works for the sheer joy of the doing. In them we find aerial views, mixed perspectives, high horizons, narrative imagery and images that are but a careful collection of interesting shapes, as well as etched textural surfaces and soft washes over drawn lines.
For example Lotus offers a well drawn hand of rich red extending from a blue sleeve, which is decorated with dancing cranes, to pluck a blossom from a field of golden leaves. This is total luxury in colour and texture. Then, for a change of mood, the painting In the Garden 1 offers thin washes of blue and pink spilled over a stylized linear depiction of birds, figures and flowers. Here the medium is as cool and gentle as a spring breeze. And if it's line you love, the series of ink and wash drawings In the Studio will delight. These nude studies remind us Juniper is always the excellent draughtsman.
Young John at Koolkynie is an intriguing image. Layers of pigment are etched into or marked with colour to suggest square and rectangular segments of different sizes, like parcels of land. Meanwhile areas of clear colour and the partially visible underpainting create their own freeform shapes divorced from the rigid pattern. Then the 'John' of the title, a line drawing quite distinct from the painting, is found floating in the top right hand corner of the composition. It goes without saying, everything comes together like a collection of disparate thoughts that somehow makes sense.
This is an exhibition that needs to be seen more then once to fully
comprehend the extent of expertise and excitement displayed. It's good
to have the master back as there's still a great deal he can teach us about
art ... and surviving the pseudosophisticates.
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