Paintings: 2011 - 2017
16 March - 11 April 2018
Cézanne was famously quoted as saying, “The grandiose grows tiresome after a while”. So be it then that the role of painting everyday objects in all their glory is a vocation for only the truest artist-as-poets.
Kevin Lincoln has forged a sustained career in his unwavering pursuit of the compelling. He has devoted his artistic career to the unhurried contemplation of the objects and landscapes of his surroundings. Pots, dishes, fruit, postcards, vases, Australian native flowers and a modest collection of Japanese pottery form the basis for much of the Tasmanian-born painter’s imagery.
Like other artist-poets, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1994), William Scott (1913-1989), or even Agnes Martin (1912-2004), Lincoln’s works are so evidently shaped by self-restraint and the passions that produce it. The paintings are close studies in rhythm and balance. Restrained and sophisticated. Like Morandi, Lincoln uses a muted colour palette that ranges from dark and medium greys to cool whites, pale yellows, greens and reds. His consideration of the formal decisions made in relation colour and technique are absolutely transfixing.
It is in the rendering of Lincoln’s imagery that stands him above his peers. Lincoln’s techniques pulsate on each canvas and interrogate the way we see the world. Compositions containing three objects may display three entirely different approaches in application and technique. In the painting, Postcard & white dish, 2017, the most artificial object - the postcard - is granted the most ‘correct’ and perspectiva depth, while the remaining seemingly real studio objects in the composition (the white dish, the wine bottle) are fuzzy and distorted. This shifting of techniques play into the way we see living in a digital world. When surrounded by an environment of glossy reproduced images, high definition television and hand-held devices our relationship to the ‘real’ seems messy and distorted. The clarity of the ‘unreal’ strangely becomes the easiest and sharpest to see.
Lincoln’s paintings at first appear austere, however the works themselves are full of life. Where Morandi avoided the human figure and abstraction, Lincoln embraces both. The recent survey exhibition Kevin Lincoln: The eye’s mind at the Art Gallery of Ballarat showed his self-portraits in detail. Likewise, Lincoln’s abstract works cross back and forth between the observed and the composed. Anything on hand is worthy of attention.
Scottish-born painter William Scott’s Protestant upbringing drove his precise conception of austerity and universality. It is interesting to note that William Scott was the first British artist to meet and take cues from artists of the New York School like Pollock and Rothko. And like Scott, in Lincoln we see forms such as circles and squares not geometrically exact but bounded by sensitive painterly lines. However, rather than grandeur of universality, in Lincoln we find play and specificity in the ephemera in which he surrounds himself. As Cézanne said, “The grandiose grows tiresome after a while”, while the humble, the everyday, the slow-moving, unfolds as complex and immensely fulfilling.
- Adam Sims, 2018