Thursday, September 28, 2006

Getting Sharp with Kingo

I haven't seen this exhibition, but I can vouch for the artists - having spent a very pleasurable day building a large, ferry shaped sand-castle on Palm Beach with them. We won equal first prize!

Martin Sharp I have only met once - on the sandcastle day. He looks like a slightly more weatherbeaten Keith Richards. His early art is cartoonlike, vibrant, and colourful. He has matured into a smootly sophisticated modern artist.

Kingo is my friend. We met while trying to save Hegarty's Ferries, the old wooden ferries that used to ply the waters between Circular Quay and Luna Park, and I try to visit him whenever I am in Sydney. He paints wonderful sea-scapes and harbour-scapes - many from his window overlooking Lavender Bay, where he lives next door to the house of the late Brett Whitely - another great lover of the bay. Peter Kingston and Wendy Whitely still tend gardens in the public park in front of their houses, and Peter has lined the foreshore walk in Lavender bay with miniature bronze sculptures from The Magic Pudding and Blinky Bill.

His paintings are more epic than Martin's - although he does his share of cartoon style pictures too - and a very nice line in chess sets. His recent painting style is possibly more grown-up than Martin's, incorporating some abstract impressionism and elements of both Lloyd Rees - the great grandaddy of North Shore painters, and Brett Whitely. He paints water beautifully and he paints moods.

Peter, for all his enthusiasm and passion, has a slight air of sadness about him - he misses his dog, he misses his ferries and he struggles to preserve the vanishing bits of maritime herritage around Sydney Harbour. And you can feel the mood in his paintings. Especially Self-Portrait as a Rope Thrower - which unfortunatley is not in the exhibition. It depicts Peter as the ropeman, standing in the rain on The Emerald Star - the most lovely of Hegarty's old ferries - having just tied it up at the wharf. The painting is almost monochrome, with little bits of colour reflecting out of the puddles - you can see the bittersweet style at the exhibition in Shag Shed Resumes. The rain in the self-portrait is like the tears of loss, and Peter is there, like a ghost, on a ghostly boat. The painting is hauntingly beautiful, but also like a big cartoon - again Peter's mix sad and happy, all in one place, just like life. The painting should be in The Archibald Prize, because it would be a contender for victory - I have never seen a painting that captures the personality of its subject so perfectly. So if you don't ever meet Peter Kingston, find his Self-Portrait as a Rope Thrower and stand in front of it for a while. You'll have met him then.


Blogger Daniel said...

A very interesting post, Damian. Boats and harbours are interesting things and I spent a lot of time around both. Lived on a yacht once, one I built myself.

Now I'm far from the ocean and in the middle of a drought.

Take care!

Saturday, September 30, 2006 5:49:00 AM  
Blogger Damian said...

Thanks Daniel. They are interesting places - though Sydney Harbour is progressively less interesting. I suspect that the NSW politicians have ambitions to move to Federal politics. And those that can't get there are opting for the next best thing - removing all the industrial influences from the foreshores until the harbour looks just like Lake Burley Griffin.

Sunday, October 01, 2006 10:49:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home