Talented, young Sydney artist Mitchell Kelly has just completed his first exhibition for 2008, Mining Country, which will be showing at Richard Martin Art, Woollahra 1 - 19 March. The artist, well known for his Australian outback-inspired landscapes, believes this collection is his best yet, with paintings that are far more spontaneous and fluid than his past works.
His aim for the current collection was to strike a balance between his previous abstract work and the more pictorial representations of the landscape. The upcoming exhibition, of around 14-16 works, will also contain some etchings which is new to his portfolio. The 26 year old artist, (who is also a Visual Arts high school teacher), uses acrylic and mixed media to create his richly coloured works, which usually take him anywhere between one to four weeks to complete.
Kelly uses the process of spontaneity, immediacy and sensory experience to create life in his paintings. Having grown up on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, it is ironic that the majority of Kelly’s works are of the Australian landscape. Instead of the ocean, his inspiration comes from outback country areas such as Arkaroola, Wilpena, Broken Hill, Sofala and Hill End near Bathurst, where he was Artist-in-Residence for one month in 2006. “The marks made, colours used, shapes and forms are all a representation of the landscape that I investigated and experienced. For me this was the real beginning of developing a dialogue with the landscape,” says Mitchell. “I love the isolation and silence in the Australian outback. I love being able to forget the hustle and bustle of my city life to experience the land that is so much a part of every Australian.” Although the majority of Kelly’s subject influence stems from the land itself, his artistic style is drawn from a number of renowned artists;
Frank Auerbach, who has led the artists use of charcoal and Robert Motherwell, who strongly influenced the use of spontaneity in his works. Kelly’s outback-based works are deeply influenced by one of Australia’s most prominent landscape artists, John Olsen. “John Olsen would have to be my biggest influence – his thin washes particularly in his watercolours are absolutely amazing,” says Mitchell. Although the artist does not want to become categorised by his landscape works, it is clear that he enjoys using the Australian land as a basis for his works.
He aims to bring a part of the isolated landscape to the viewer for them to experience, as these are the remote places that most people never get the chance to visit. “I love the process of creating a landscape work that has a life of its own that is independent of the actual landscape. The painting undergoes a process of changes that are similar to the changes in nature,” says Mitchell. “This is Mitchell’s third exhibition with us,” says Richard Martin of Richard Martin Art. “After discovering his talent at COFA’s graduate exhibition in 2003, I knew I had found something good. His depiction of the Australian landscape is like nothing else, we’re greatly looking forward to exhibiting his latest collection.”