From Sharne Wolff…
When he was young, Rob McHaffie used to entertain himself drawing “creepy characters with huge noses and hairy legs”. It seems things haven’t changed all that much. Now he’s all grown up, he’s still painting his weird, wacky and wonderful portraits. There are no hairy legs in this show but the noses, or sometimes a lack of one, remain a definite feature.
I Can Still Remember How to Speak is McHaffie’s latest exhibition since returning to his hometown of Melbourne after living in Malaysia (on an artist residency) and later in Thailand. McHaffie’s oil paintings on linen are originally inspired by cutouts from Thai Vogue magazine although, now that he’s home, he notes their striking similarity to “people you see around where we now live in Brighton…”. Ahem. The artist’s choice of flat ice-creamy backgrounds, odd poses and kooky outfits ensure his characters stand out from the crowd. Strangely endearing, and littered with art historical references, McHaffie’s portraits are like fantastic renditions of the time Picasso had a drink with a Bangkok fashionista. It’s also undeniable McHaffie is a keen observer. His pictures are curiously telling and despite being so abstract, the poignant mix of pathos, wit and sentiment is universal – and also very human.
Until May 31
Darren Knight Gallery, Waterloo
Pic: Rob McHaffie I can hear you but I can’t see you, turn your camera on2014 oil on linen41 x 36 cm. Courtesy the artist and Darren Knight Gallery.