Olsen Irwin Blog
Blind Date 2012
© Fiona Greenhill
40 x 40cm (each panel)  $4,250
oil & acrylic on cotton (diptych)
Night Markets, London 2012
© Fiona Greenhill
38 x 25cm  $2,600
oil & acrylic on linen    SOLD
Out of Season 2012
© Fiona Greenhill
27 x 38cm  $3,000
oil on linen    SOLD
Lost Huon Pine Experience 2011/12
© Fiona Greenhill
183 x 122cm  $12,000
oil & acrylic on canvas    SOLD
Mona on the Parra 2011
© Fiona Greenhill
91.5 x 91.5cm  $6,500
oil on canvas
Distant Lights 2010/2011
© Fiona Greenhill
100 x 200cm  $12,000
oil on canvas    SOLD
City Convenience 2000
© Fiona Greenhill
61 x 61cm  $3,750
acrylic and oil on canvas    SOLD
Huon Pine Tasmania 2009
© Fiona Greenhill
122 x 183cm  $10,000
oil on canvas    SOLD
Eddie Avenue, 4pm 2008
© Fiona Greenhill
91.5 x 91.5cm  $5,500
oil and acrylic on canvas    SOLD
She's Leaving Home, Bye Bye 2007/08
© Fiona Greenhill
81.5 x 122cm  $6,000
oil and acrylic on canvas    SOLD
Playfair, Playfair Street, The Rocks 2008
© Fiona Greenhill
38 x 25.5cm  $2,850
oil & acrylic on canvas    SOLD
Late Night Shopping, Naples 2012
© Fiona Greenhill
90 x 90cm  $900 (unframed)
photograph on hahnemuhle paper    SOLD
Outhland 2013
© Fiona Greenhill
135 x 90cm  $1,200 (unframed)
photograph on hahnemuhle paper
Still Life, Hong Kong Lights 2012
© Fiona Greenhill
40 x 42.5cm  $650 (framed)
photograph on hahnemuhle paper    SOLD - Editions Available
 

Fiona Greenhill

 
 
Why the Baroque, now?
It has been said that the late twentieth / early twenty-first centuries have witnessed the re-surfacing of the Baroque.  As such, these recent works respond to the uncertainties and anxieties particular to painting in the digital age through the adoption of an increasingly Baroque aesthetic.  Writing in 1987, the Italian Semiologist, Omar Calabrese, identified the defining feature of the aesthetic of mass culture in an epoch ‘so confused, fragmented and indecipherable’, with a prevailing taste he termed ‘Neo-Baroque’.  Since his work numerous scholars have increasingly drawn parallels between the historic Baroque of the seventeenth century and the Neo-Baroque of the present.  The Neo-Baroque is not a return to the historic Baroque, nor is it strictly speaking an homogenous or identifiable ‘style’.  It is more a sensibility characterised by a propensity for instability, kitsch, dazzling colour, ornamentation, virtuosity and pop-culture theatrics. 

In the late 1990s, I first started painting small scale pictures from photos, mostly using a macro lens, that I took whilst driving through the city.  This strategy helped curtail my ability to consciously compose, in order to produce images that were less ‘planned’, and that had an element of surprise.  It has always been important to devise a plan and to follow it through rather than subscribe to the heroic ideals of waiting for inspiration in front of a blank canvas.  Whilst the recent work is a natural progression from these earlier paintings, the work is more ambitious in scale and encompasses a more diverse range of subjects. 

The major theme throughout my work has always been the perennial problem of representation: where to draw the line between ‘real life’ and ‘art’, illusion and abstraction, transcription and composition.  Although we tend to view this question as a peculiarly modern one, the problematic relationship between illusion and reality originates from ancient debates and was one that dominated the art of the seventeenth century as much as it pre-occupies the art of our own time.  As such, I am interested in a wide range of painters whose works have incorporated aspects of the pictorial mode evident in lens-based images, be it Vermeer and his lesser known contemporary, Willem Kalf in the seventeenth century, seminal artists from the sixties to the present, such as Gerhard Richter, Ed Ruscha, Johannes Kahrs and Judith Eisler, to name only a few.  Though these artists represent a diverse stylistic range, it could be suggested that they universally adopt what might broadly be seen as a more ‘impersonal’ style of painting in response to a universal dilemma: where does art situate itself between the world and our perception of it?

Using photographs as the starting point, the process always starts with a detailed line drawing that somewhat perversely turns a fuzzy, indistinct image into a crisply focussed geometric pattern.  This is further developed and elaborated by a tonal underpainting (grisaille) that is then finally built up in layers through applications of colour by a mixture of glazing, scumbling and direct painting. 

I strive to paint in a style more suggestive than descriptive, paying attention to the broad mass of forms against the circumscribing illustrative nature of line.  Concentrating attention on the envelope of forms rather than a descriptive linear representation, markedly flattens some areas and creates a patterned effect of strangely disembodied shapes of light, shade and colour.  Through the work I intend to ‘unmake’ the image so that elements blend together visually when seen at a distance, but disperse into an unintelligible abstract mosaic upon closer scrutiny. This process dismembers the three-dimensional illusion of pictorial space and creates an inbuilt tension between order and chaos in which the image continually oscillates between illusion and the abstract surface arrangement of light and shade.
   
   
   
 
 
   
   
 
 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 
   
   

OLSEN IRWIN 63 Jersey Road Woollahra NSW Sydney Australia T +61 2 9327 3922   Hours: Monday 12 - 5pm, Tuesday - Friday 10am - 6pm, Saturday 10am - 5pm and Sunday 12 noon - 5pm