In The Neighbourhood of The Classic

Reviews Sep 02, 2004 No Comments

Rick Amor is keeping metaphysical painting alive. Georgio De Chirico casts a long shadow over the artist’s latest show at Liverpool Street Gallery and those little lost men in Jeffrey Smart’s landscapes would feel at home in the bleak industrial wastelands of Amor’s imagination. Although this brief collection of seven paintings carries with them inevitable comparisons, there is enough of Amor here to banish doubts. These are all successful paintings, but some are more successful than others, and a couple are bobby dazzlers.

The best picture is Evening By The Courts, a view looking down a road to a massive statue that’s facing a wall since the dilapidated building to its left was built. In this alternative world, a metaphor for the classical can only exist by accident and neglect. The statue has had some effort made to preserve it with a rusty roof built above its head, but it’s also a handy place to park a car and the whole neighborhood looks like it will turn to dust before anything else happens. Silent Worlds conjures up an even bleaker, but nonetheless beautiful landscape of rusted metal and sand, some figures gamboling just over the shore line towards a stunning sky of moody cumulous. Memory of A Storm, a place more recognisably our own, could be Bronte or Tamarama, with rough seas and more little men in peril.

Amor’s work is heavy with poetic import and intention, yet the drama of the paintings somehow carries it off. In lesser hands, a painting like Journey III could fail spectacularly, but the subtle use of colour to heighten effect and the masterful composition put Amor in the tradition of the great narrative painters. The ambiguity of the narrative and the seascapes also recalls, oddly enough, the surrealist paintings of James Gleeson. These works are worth savouring, like an old port and cigar, or a narcoleptic doze.

Andrew Frost

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