Guy Maestri is one of Australia’s most championed artists and in 2009 was the recipient of one of the most prestigious art accolades in Australia, the Archibald Prize. Building upon two previous shows here in Hong Kong with The Cat Street Gallery, Maestri’s third and latest exhibition, ‘More Paintings from No Man’s Land’, brings a vast array of artworks featuring his latest (and perhaps fondest) subject - the expansive Australian landscape - which Maestri has documented over the many journeys he has made across the country.
Maestri’s practice continues to go from strength to strength, and these most recent works are particularly masterful. His paintings, whether on their own or as a group, are a boldly woven and deeply atmospheric ode to the country’s dynamic pastoral vistas; tumbling waterfalls, vast hills and majestic cliffs that spread over the land. Admirers of Maestri’s work will revel in his return to abstracted thick trenches of oil paint on canvas, as he tests visual planes with his brushstrokes, and carves out sublime natural formations that are both recognizable and anonymous all at once.
Not only do these paintings display a skillful execution of paint on a surface, but they also seem to harness a spirit - the spirit of Maestri and his incontrovertible fascination for his surroundings - and in their numbers (for this show is by far one of Maestri's largest, totalling 37 paintings), this unctuous army of canvases packs a visceral punch. Each image almost pulsing to a shared beat, they seem excited to charge forward and confess secrets they hold, or whisper the story of how Maestri came to weave them into his vision.
Born in New South Wales, Maestri is based in Sydney and has shown widely throughout Australia with many successful solo shows. Aside from the 2009 Archibald Prize win for his stirring portrait of Indigenous singer, Geoffrey Gurrumul, he was a finalist for the Dobell Drawing Prize in both 2007 and 2008.