Joe Furlonger is one of my all-time favourite artists, well known for his expressive, figurative images and vast landscapes, and I worked with him many times when I was a curator at Gold Coast City Gallery, now HOTA.
I remember a friend’s old, rented Queenslander on the Gold Coast had this astonishing kitchen that was painted by the artist in his signature figurative style. Figures danced around the stove and the walls, like Matisse’s dancers, on a bright yellow ground. As a young art historian, I thought it was marvellous. I often wonder if it still exists. This show, Horizons, traces Furlonger’s career through a generous presentation of more than 80 works across a range of media from painting to ceramics, sculpture and drawing.
Furlonger was born in Cairns and grew up in Samford, Brisbane, where he now lives and works. He is highly regarded as a landscape painter, but also as a great figurative painter, and is known for his use of handmade acrylic paints and reused canvases. It is the physicality of Furlonger’s work that appeals, his big gestures that meld abstraction and figuration, that echo Picasso or, closer to home, Ian Fairweather.
Furlonger’s images describe the Australian climate and the light; inky lines (inspired by time spent in Vietnam and China) overlaid with bold swathes of slapped paint. You get a sense of urgency to his making.
He is a nine-time finalist in the Archibald Prize, and won the Moët & Chandon Fellowship in 1988, and the Fleurieu Art Prize for Landscape in 2002.
I have always loved Furlonger’s vision of the beach – with its statuesque figures bathing – as much as his depictions of the bush, and his superb ceramics, often gigantic in scale.
Horizons is accompanied by a must-have catalogue, too. The exhibition runs until January 29.
This article originally appeared on Escape and do not necessarily represent the views of australiaexploring.com