Following his early training under John Brack at Melbourne Grammar School in the 1950s, Guy Stuart studied painting at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in 1961–62.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s Stuart experimented in a wide range of media in which he explored the formal properties of objects, primarily in the shape of bowls, vats and discs. Having visited Japan twice in the late 1950s where he learned Sumi-e, the Japanese form of ink wash painting, Stuart returned there in 1985 in order to draw the landscape. This experience has proven to be highly influential with the landscape emerging as the major concern in his practice ever since.
As the artist reveals, ‘the simple main reason I work with landscape is that I feel the experience personally’, and therefore a vital part of his process involves the immediacy of sketching his subjects directly on site. Back in the studio, the artist works from memory, internalising the landscape in order to clarify his response whereby his aim is to ‘lay down a range of marks equivalent to the essentials of real locations’. As seen in Coppabella upright (2000-01), the artist’s abbreviated, improvised and notational outlines that delicately punctuate the vista and economically summarise the shapes and rhythms of the rocks, trees and hills, resemble a kind of calligraphy or handwriting which retains the immediacy and impulse of drawing. Beneath these lines, the broader abstract bands of muted orange, green, blue and purple dispersed in various lengths and angles, provide suggestive accents which further enhance our sense of the contours and movements present within this southern New South Wales landscape. With its high horizon line on an elongated canvas, this painting not only emulates the composition and format of Japanese scroll painting, it spiritedly translates the directness and simplicity of Zen painting to the unruly features of the Australian countryside.
- Guy Stuart, ‘Notes on my recent paintings’, (exh. cat.), Melbourne: Charles Nodrum Gallery, 1996.
- See Peter Doherty quoted in ‘Guy Stuart: Writing the Picture: Recent Paintings’, Stella Downer Fine Art website, August 2008. URL: http://www.stelladownerfineart.com.au/news-details.php?newsID=24&exhibitionID=10, accessed on 20 May 2016.