paper & canvas
3 – 28 July 2021
Elwyn Lynn (1917-1997) occupied a remarkable position in Australian art of the second half of the 20thC.
In 1958, Lynn visited Europe, where the walls and buildings of many major cities still bore the scars of the dreadful destruction of the Second World War. He also attended the Venice Biennale, where he saw the works of the emerging matter painters, including Antoni Tapies, who were being exhibited in the Spanish Pavilion. These experiences exerted an indelible influence on Lynn. He felt that it was impossible, now, to create paintings that calmly tinkered with formal arrangements, or which confined themselves to beguiling but innocuous subject matter. Lynn turned to unconventional painting media and above all to expressive surfaces to construct metaphors for human suffering and endurance. Most of his work was essentially abstract, although a sense of the landscape is often evoked “ a landscape disfigured, torn and corrugated by time and geomorphic stresses.
The later work of Lynn maintained his interest in damaged and shredding surfaces, and his frequent and adventurous use of assemblage elements. These late works were also marked by an expressionist vehemence and a daring informality.
As well as his considerable achievements as a painter, Elwyn Lynn was also of central importance in Australian art as a writer, and art critic, President of the Contemporary Art Society (NSW Branch), Chair of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council and for fourteen years, and Curator of the Power Gallery of Contemporary Art at the University of Sydney. His awards include the Wynne Prize for landscape painting in 1988, an Australia Council Emeritus Award in 1994, and a Membership of the Order of Australia in 1975. In 1991, the Art Gallery of New South Wales mounted a comprehensive Retrospective Exhibition of his work. “Elwyn Lynn: Metaphor and Texture”, a major study of his work, was published by Craftsman House in 2002.