This relentless creativity has by no means earned him a lot time within the limelight. Wilson enters the Archibald Prize yearly and is rejected yearly. His books won’t ever be bestsellers, and the museums usually are not queuing as much as purchase his work. Naturally, he’d wish to be extra profitable, however it’s the pleasure of the work itself that retains him engaged. Too refined to be a ‘naive’ artist and too eccentric to be modern, Wilson is a research in perseverance who has by no means misplaced hope that perhaps someday he’ll be recognised for his efforts. Perhaps as we speak’s the day!
Mullumbimby Revisited is Wilson’s tongue-in-cheek homage to the city of his early life. The entire story is informed in his autobiography, The Mullumbimby Child (2000), by which he shows a prodigious reminiscence for the small however vital incidents of childhood and youth.
The exhibition accommodates landscapes, portraits, nudes and determine research, style scenes, surreal fantasies, and canopy variations of well-known footage by Modigliani, Manet and Gauguin, however pleasure of place is given to the Mullumbimby work by which the artist takes a sweeping overview of the city from an elevated place. We see ‘Mullum’ not as it’s as we speak, however because it was throughout Wilson’s schooldays within the Nineteen Fifties. This veil of nostalgia appears to hold over lots of the work on this present. Though Wilson has an uninhibited strategy to color his palette is usually muted, with many works taking up pastel-like tones. He’s not keen on shadows, and this contributes to the marginally ‘naive’ look of a few of his footage – darkness at all times appearing as a badge of seriousness. Like Dr Johnson, if Wilson had regarded as a thinker he has been undone by his personal cheerfulness.
When he does use shadows, notably in his nude research, Wilson turns them into stable bands of color. There’s a recurring flatness in the best way he applies the paint, interrupted by excursions right into a homegrown model of pointillism by which a picture is constructed from hundreds of tiny dots of oil paint.
Considered one of Wilson’s idiosyncrasies is a model of self-promotion so unsubtle it’s virtually charming. In his self-portrait, Stardust-Painter Poet – which offers the duvet picture and the title for a brand new version of his most broad-ranging publication – Wilson stares out at us, his head held between his fingers, alongside a stack of his personal books organized spine-outward so we will learn the titles. Within the Mullumbimby portray, The Stilt Walker, he slips the duvet of his autobiography into the left-hand nook. It’s one in every of a collection of emblems that float throughout the floor of the image.
The Stilt Walker might be the foremost work on this present, each in scale and the extent of invention, however Wilson reveals a lyrical contact in landscapes comparable to Wollumbin or Roche Mouton, by which variegated blues and purples are offset by sharp dashes of pink and yellow. In different work on this huge, sprawling exhibition, his colors appear to be chosen to conflict slightly than harmonise.
In introducing this present, I fell again instinctively on Socrates’s maxim that “the unexamined life just isn’t value dwelling.” I can hardly consider one other artist who has drawn a lot from his personal life, when it comes to each photographs and phrases. That life has been extra fascinating than most however not particularly adventurous. Till his retirement Wilson labored at numerous full-time jobs, writing or portray in his spare time. He gave up artwork for a few years however returned to it with a vengeance in later life. Now he believes his poetic muse has abandoned him.
I can hardly consider one other artist who has drawn a lot from his personal life, when it comes to each photographs and phrases.
What we see on this present is a summa and testomony of a person who has been ceaselessly burning with curiosity about artwork, literature and science. Not content material to be a passive shopper he has made his personal contributions to every of those fields. He has by no means seen artwork as merely a seek for leisure or distraction, however as a significant exercise that feeds again into all elements of life. Even again within the days when he was the Mullumbimby Child, I think Edwin Wilson was secretly dreaming of being Renaissance Man.
Edwin Wilson: Mullumbimby Revisited, Artarmon Galleries, till March 13.