Glorious Descent

Glorious Descent
Acrylic on canvas 60 x 40cm

Monday, April 9, 2012


During my time at Bundanon I became impressed by the resident bull, who resided in a magnificent green pasture next to my studio. In the solitude of this residency I came to appreciate the reliable companionship of this animal, whose soft contemplative gaze often met my own. As my observation developed, I became intrigued by his conflicting behaviour. At dusk he would parade his fierce weighted body about and bellow until his rival would engage in a fight. However come morning, both bulls would be curled beneath a tree, endearingly licking the ears of one another.

Coincidently I had been reading Hemmingway’s novel Fiesta, whose imagery of Spanish bull fights and analogies of the tradition fuelled my intrigue into the cultural relevance of the bull. I began investigating the nature of its relationship with man and the power struggle between the two. There is a mutual respect for one another and yet an underlying power struggle. This tension captivated my attention as I attempted to paint the complex identity of the Bull. I used Hemmingway’s description of the artful interactions between the matador and the bull as a basis to paint a beautifully ferocious portrait. With bold colour and lavish brush strokes I am engaging with Hemmingway's subject of the spectacle and appealing to the bravado and beauty of the Bull. In a painterly language that appeals to human tactility Bocanegra appeals to the sentiment that the bull is not unlike the matador, mesmerised by the fury of the ring, the assertion of control and the passion of the dance. Both are captivated by delusions and frustrated with unfulfilled desire, but maintain each other in a furious energy. Like a true comrad the knowing gaze of Bocanegra shares with us the reality that just as the bull is commanded to fall under the matador we too can our own red flag.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

In March 2012 I was an artist in residence at Bundanon, the homestead of the late Arthur Boyd. The life force of the property is the magnificent Shoalhaven river that sweeps its way through the pasture and bush land. Upon my arrival at Bundanon, NSW was amidst heavy rain and the Shoalhaven was in flood. As I drove into Bundanon the river lapped at the edges of the road and threatened to take me as its prisoner. As the levels rose the current rushed with intensity and swallowed the trees, taking many branches out to sea. The fever of the weather lasted a week where I did not see any sun. Contained in my studio, the solitude and unrelenting rain lead my brushes to canvas. Swallowed River Banks, charts the flow of water from sky to earth, from the patterning of raindrops to the rushing tributaries. It features a tangle of lines awash with layers of colour that reflect Bundanon caught within the tumultuous grip of the flood.

'Swallowed Riverbanks' is part of a new series of Paintings which is presented at the bottom of this blog as a new album.