|Essie Davis actress. |
Charcoal drawing & pastel 1990.
Tasmanian artist George Davis’ exhibition currently showing at TMAG in Hobart covers a vast field of human visual experience. It covers sixty-five years of drawing from his early twenties the present. The survey of George’s drawings coincides with the release of Hendrik Kolenberg’s book on his work that may be purchases at TMAG. This survey includes a number of portraits and landscape paintings as well as the drawings. The drawings reinforce Davis reputation as one of Australia’s finest draughtsman. Self-portraits of twenty year old George hang alongside a number of portraits of family and friends executed over a lifetime. Beautiful anatomical correct figure drawings from life class to atmospherically tonal rending of London houses and landscapes demonstrate his years of observation. In the 1950s George spent a few years studying on a Tasmanian scholarship at the Royal Academy in London. Davis learnt to draw in the now unfashionable manner of learning to see accurately, to work from plaster casts, seeing the world around you enables development of hand eye co-ordination so essential to fine art. I first meet George Davis some thirty to forty years ago, we have over the years spent many hours discussing different approaches to art practice, and at times despairing at the current direction of art training in this country. Too much old fashion discipline has been discarded and lost in the haste to incorporate new fashionable technology.
George Davis is more than simply an artist, but a scientist and collector of a vast array natural insects, shell fish and native wildlife as well, all of which he painstakingly draws in great detail. These drawings however are not the lifeless illustrations often found in science books, but images that at times live on the page. Over the years George has spent considerable time drawing and painting the bird life on the many islands off the Tasmanian coast once travelling to Macquarie Island on the Antarctic ship Nella Dam to draw albatross and other nesting sea birds, never willing to rely on observations of others. Included in this exhibition are working drawings for the sixty foot mosaic mural adorning Hobart Conservatorium of Music, constructed with over 123,000 Italian glass tiles, the work took over two years to create.
|Nella Dam, south wharf Melbourne|
Among the detailed scientific drawings of shells, bones and animal parts are many delightful drawings of nesting seabirds, penguins that live in the present. These are not casual observations, but drawings that have a life of their own as they fight their way off the page into the living world of the viewer. Davis has the ability to take his work to a new level. It is not hard to understand that here is an artist who has learnt to see by accurate observation, an artist who looks carefully and then able to capture the essence of things with a few rapid strokes. Seeing is the key, a discipline that has almost become extinct from art schools. A particularly lovely drawing of newly hatcher Albatross chicks seem to dance before your eyes, truly a wonderful experience.
|Gentoo penguins disturbed.|
|Gentoo penguins at Bauer Bay, Macquarie Island.|
There are a number of paintings, some bordering on abstraction without losing the essence of the landscape. George has spent months on end on unhabituated islands off Tasmanian north coast, painting rookeries at times having to lash himself to the rock face in order to paint his subject. These paintings express more than the rocky outcrops of steep slopes that plunge into the sea below, but also express the abstract form and tone of nature herself. You feel the wind as it whistles off the surface into the face of the viewer. At times the colour borders on impressionistic, but contained within structured form. This is an exhibition well worth the effort to view it.
|Pam, London. Reed pen & ink 1954|
|Tasmanian freshwater crayfish. Pencil 1984|
|Weddel seal pup. pencil 1983.|
|Forocactus peninsulae . pencil 1976..|