17 Feb David Middlebrook
The horizon and landscape is the dominant theme in David Middlebrook’s paintings and drawings. He sees the horizon as a metaphor for the unobtainable perfect painting, a form of exploration, man against the landscape, striving for yet never reaching the destination. His work includes oil paintings and sepia drawings of the Australian desert. The works in this exhibition in particular are around Menindee Lakes, Mutawintji, and White Cliffs, all in the far west of NSW.
The central horizon line allows him to explore colour, microcosm and macrocosm, perspective, tone and form within this landscape narrative. Middlebrook’s work starts with minimalist drawings done in the landscape, getting a sense of form and knowledge of local geography. This then expands into sepia works that explore the minimalism of the landscape with the addition of marks suggesting foliage, watercourses, dry ridges and other natural forms. The larger of these works are done in the studio, which allows even more of a distillation and essence of place. The oil paintings then work parallel to these drawings. Colour is intuitive and Middlebrook is lucky to have a memory that allows him to recall accurate nuances of a particular environment. There are striking aesthetic differences between the paintings and drawings, yet both come about through an obsessive practice and a unique approach. His work is quiet, with meditative qualities, suggesting more of a response to, rather than a depiction of place.
Middlebrook was awarded a PhD (University of Newcastle) for his research and body of work in Australian landscape painting and art history in 2006. His career spans 25 years, with over 30 solo exhibitions and works in numerous public and private collections. Middlebrook’s recent exhibitions include ‘Art from Australia’, Seoul, South Korea and Sydney Contemporary Art Fair, Art Atrium. He is currently working on an exhibition for Art Central, Hong Kong International Art Fair in March 2017.
Photo: Ryan Fitzgerald
Dry arid places, flooded deserts, isolation and alienation, the unreachable horizon, a fascination with Australian exploration and literature, these and many other reasons are why I’m compelled to draw and paint the landscape. My work allows me time out in an ever increasing world of visual, political, and screaming personalities . My images are build up with chattered marks across the surface in either oil paint or ink, a slow ponderous build up of repetitious marks allowing a personal meditation.
My work starts with drawings in pen and ink, done in the landscape, small mostly sepia and in sketchbooks. These are then worked up through larger sepia works on paper, before returning to the studio where I develop these images further into oil paintings and large scale works on paper. This process allows me to create a sense of place without a literal interpretation of the landscape.
I strongly believe in the concepts of ‘Content and Technique’, art should always be about more than an image, it needs to have a philosophical base as well as a flawless technical skill.
Born Gloucester, New South Wales
Bachelor of Arts/Visual Arts, University of Newcastle
PhD, Exploring the Horizon, a Journey with Voss and Ada, University of Newcastle
2007 – 2015
Sessional Lecturer in Painting, Drawing and Art History, University of Newcastle
Moved to Medlow Bath, Blue Mountains
2017 Lost Bear Gallery, Katoomba. Art Atrium, Sydney
2016 Lost Bear Gallery, Katoomba
2015 Blue Mountains Regional Art Gallery, Katoomba. Art Atrium, Sydney. Lost Bear Gallery, Katoomba
2011 Rex-Livingston Art Dealer. Cudgegong Galleries, Gulgong
2010 Rex-Livingston Art Dealer
2009 Rex-Livingston Art Dealer
2008 Cudgegong Galleries, Gulgong. John Miller Galleries, Newcastle
2007 Gallery G, Brisbane
2006 Moree Plains Gallery
2006 Back to Back Gallery, Newcastle. Stella Downer Fine Art, Sydney
2005 University of Newcastle
2004 John Miller Galleries, Newcastle. Stella Downer Fine Art, Sydney
2003 Arts Promotion Queensland, Brisbane.
2002 Stella Downer Fine Art, Sydney. von Bertouch Galleries, Newcastle
2001 Lake Russell Gallery, Coffs Harbour
2000 von Bertouch Galleries, Newcastle
1999 Survey Exhibition, Maitland City Art Gallery. Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane. von Bertouch Galleries, Newcastle
1998 Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane
1997 King Street Galleries Newtown Sydney. von Bertouch Galleries, Newcastle
1996 Holdsworth Galleries, Sydney
1995 Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery. von Bertouch Galleries, Newcastle
1994 Holdsworth Galleries, Sydney
1993 von Bertouch Galleries, Newcastle
1991 Newcastle Region Art Gallery. von Bertouch Galleries, Newcastle
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2018 Transcendence, Art Atrium on Crown Street; Lost Bear Gallery, Katoomba
2017 The 7th Beijing International Art Biennale, China; Art Atrium, Sydney: Recent Acquisitions, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Tattersall’s Bendigo Bank Art Prize, Brisbane; Lost Bear Gallery, Katoomba.
2016 Art Atrium at Walsh Bay, Sydney Packsaddle, New England Regional. Art Gallery; Tattersalls Art Prize, Brisbane
2015 Korean Cultural Centre, Sydney; Sydney Contemporary Art Fair,Sydney; Art from Australia, Gail Museum, Seoul, Korea; Packsaddle Exhibition, New England Regional Gallery; University of Newcastle
2014 Art Atrium, Sydney; Packsaddle Exhibition, New England Regional Gallery; Lost Bear Gallery, Katoomba; Art Equity, Sydney
2013 Geographic Responses to Landscape, University of Newcastle
2013 Paddington Art Prize, Mary Place Gallery, Sydney
2002 – 2015 Tattersall’s Bendigo Bank Art Prize, Brisbane (Winner 2002)
2012 Artsite Gallery, Sydney
2009 Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery
2008 – 2011 Rex-Livingston Art Dealer, Sydney
2007 Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery
2007 John Miller Galleries, Newcastle.
2006 Gallery G, Brisbane
2005 Arts Promotion Queensland; Beaver Galleries, Canberra; Broken Hill City Art Gallery
2002 – 2008 Taylor Galleries, Summer Hill
2002 – 2004 Stella Downer Fine Art, Sydney; Beaver Galleries, Canberra; John Miller Galleries, Newcastle; Newcastle Region Art Gallery
2000 – 2004 Art Galleries Schubert, Gold Coast
1997 – 2002 Jan Murphy Gallery, Brisbane
1997 – 1999 King Street Gallery, Sydney
1995 – 1996 Solander Gallery, Canberra
1994 – 1996 Holdsworth Galleries, Sydney
1990 – 2003 von Bertouch Galleries, Newcastle
1989 – 2004 Delmar Gallery, Sydney
Broken Hill City Art Gallery; Newcastle Region Art Gallery; Maitland City Art Gallery; Muswellbrook City Art Gallery; Moree Plains Gallery; Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery; Tattersalls Club, Brisbane; Forster/Tuncurry Regional Council; University of Newcastle, School of Fine Art; News Corporation, Sydney; William Bowmore Collection; Museum of the Senses, Sendai Japan; Trinity Grammar School, Summer Hill; John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle; Newcastle Permanent Building Society; Newcastle Conservatorium of Music, University of Newcastle; Crisp and Associates, Sydney; Price Waterhouse Coopers, Canberra.