Tracks and Traverses

Art Life , Exhibitions Oct 26, 2015 No Comments

From Sharne Wolff

English painter John Constable is best known for his paintings of Dedham Vale, the area around his Suffolk home. A Constable maxim, “I should paint my own places best”, could equally apply to Tasmania’s Philip Wolfhagen who similarly looks to his island home for inspiration. Although sometimes compared with the Englishman who often painted en plein air, Wolfhagen works from his home studio. In a colour palette that simultaneously imbues his art with romantic and melancholic qualities, Wolfhagen’s paintings more or (often) less depict any particular place.


The works in Tracks and Traverses are large-scale paintings – the results of Wolfhagen’s involvement in the Skullbone Experiment, where he was invited along with a group of other artists to respond to the environment of Tasmania’s curiously named Skullbone Plains. Alpine Transect, Wolfhagen’s entry in this year’s Wynne prize is among the group. Like most of the artist’s work these paintings are made with a palette knife. Oil paint is mixed with beeswax for the purpose of placing “a little bit of the landscape in the landscape”, – to quote the artist. It’s hard to say if it’s the beeswax that gives the paintings their tactility, their power of evocation and the feeling that they’re connecting us with the natural world. In any event the experience of looking at and through these paintings is what they’re about.

Until November 21
Dominik Mersch Gallery, Rushcutters Bay
Pic: Philip Wolfhagen ‘Traverse no.1 (convex)’ 2015, oil & beeswax on linen, 76 x 250 cm. Courtesy the artist and Dominik Mersch Gallery.

Sharne Wolff

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