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Maria Stoljar talks with Australian painters about how they became an artist, their painting techniques, influences and current work.

Talking with Painters Maria Stoljar

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Maria Stoljar talks with Australian painters about how they became an artist, their painting techniques, influences and current work.

    Ep 128: Sam Leach

    Ep 128: Sam Leach

    In 2010 Sam Leach won the Archibald and Wynne Prizes, two of Australia's most famous awards for portraiture and landscape painting, becoming only the third person in the prizes' history to win both in the same year.

    The two artists to achieve this rare distinction before him were 20th century greats Sir William Dobell and Brett Whiteley.

    I remember seeing those two small paintings hanging in the Art Gallery of NSW and being struck by their beauty and exquisite detail. The debate surrounding his Wynne Prize painting that year, which caused a small media storm, is something we dive into in this episode.

    I've been intrigued by Sam’s work ever since then. His art delves into the areas of science and nature, and in more recent years, he's used Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to initiate his paintings. It was fascinating to hear him talk about this approach.

    With a distinctly surrealist feel, Sam's work also reveals his continued interest in the Dutch masters of the 17th century which began in his early career. In his current show at Sullivan+Strumpf in Sydney, moody utopian landscapes team up with incongruous elements such as huge 'bubbles' and globular and tubular forms often hinting at or including a human presence.

    Other works depict animals, particularly polar bears, created from machine learning. These paintings, and the rather comical-looking Polar Bear Detector devised by Sam (where you can test how closely you resemble a polar bear) encourage us to see ourselves and the creatures with which we share the planet from a new perspective.

    The exhibition, with the unsettling title  ‘Everything Will Probably Be Fine’, continues until 16 July 2022.

    Sam has exhibited in 30 solo shows nationally and across the globe, has won several other awards apart from the Archibald and Wynne, and his work is held by many private and public collections including Australia's National Portrait Gallery.

    A short video of Sam talking about his work will be uploaded to the Talking with Painters YouTube channel in the coming weeks.

    Scroll down for images of the works we discuss in this episode.

    Press play to hear our conversation and scroll down for images of the works we talk about in this episode.

    Above feature photo supplied by the artist

    Current shows

    * 'Everything is going to be fine', solo show, Sullivan + Strumpf, Sydney, until 16 July 2022* 'Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes Exhibition', Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, until 28 August


    * Sam Leach (website)* Sam Leach (Instagram)* Sam Leach at Sullivan+Strumpf* Sam Leach talks with Professor Kate Crawford (Sullivan+Strumpf magazine article)* Professor Mandyam Svrinivasan talks about his work and his portrait by Sam Leach in the National Portrait Gallery (National Portrait Gallery video)

    'Machine-assisted memory of Harewood Farm, Meadows', 2022oil on linen,

    • 1 u. 8 min.
    Ep 127: Blak Douglas, Nicholas Harding, Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro

    Ep 127: Blak Douglas, Nicholas Harding, Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro

    It's that time of the year!

    The winners of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes have been announced at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and in this episode you'll hear my interviews with each of those artists about their winning works:

    * Blak Douglas (Archibald Prize)* Nicholas Harding (Wynne Prize)* Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro (Sulman Prize)

    The Archibald Wynne and Sulman Prizes exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW runs until 28 August 2022 and will then travel to Victoria and regional NSW until July 2023.

    Congratulations to all the winners and finalists!


    * Blak Douglas - episode 68 Talking with Painters (podcast and YouTube video)* Blak Douglas in his studio - TWP YouTube Channel* Blak Douglas delivering his Archibald winning painting on the loading dock - TWP YouTube channel* Nicholas Harding - episode 65 Talking with Painters (podcast and YouTube video)* Nicholas Harding in his studio - TWP YouTube Channel* Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro (website)

    Blak Douglas, 'Moby Dickens', synthetic polymer paint on linen, 300 x 200 cm Winner of the Archibald Prize 2022© the artist image © AGNSW, Mim Stirling

    Nicholas Harding,  'Eora', oil on linen, 196.5 x 374.8 cm Winner of the Wynne Prize 2022© the artist, image © AGNSW, Mim Stirling

    Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, 'Raiko and Shuten-dōji', acrylic gouache, jute and tape on helicopter shell, 159.5 x 120 cm Winner of the Sulman Prize 2022© the artists, image © AGNSW, Mim Stirling

    • 23 min.
    Ep 126: Del Kathryn Barton – ‘the women who fell to earth’

    Ep 126: Del Kathryn Barton – ‘the women who fell to earth’

    One of Australia’s most significant artists returns to the podcast! Del Kathryn Barton spoke with me the day before the opening of her spectacular exhibition ‘the women who fell to earth’ at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, showing until 28 May 2022.

    Internationally renowned, Del is well known in Australia for having won the country's most famous art prize twice - the Archibald Prize - and her works are held in many private collections and public institutions. This year the National Gallery of Australia acquired her largest single-panel work she has made to date, 'my heart is blazing 11 hours', and we talk about the work in this episode.

    Although difficult to describe in words, Del's work often depicts a female sensuality which is at the same time beautiful and confrontational - set in an intricately detailed imaginary world. She is also a self-described optimist and the work hanging in this exhibition is a testament to that, with vivid colour bursting from the canvas.

    We also discuss other art forms she has recently been engaged in, including a major project she has been developing over the last 4 years which has now come to fruition. Del's first feature film 'Blaze', a very personal work which she directed and co-wrote, is debuting at the Tribeca Film festival in June and it's one of only 10 films selected in the International Narrative competition. It has also been selected for Official Competition in the upcoming Sydney film festival, again one of only ten films selected internationally.

    You'll also hear about the origins of her arresting timber sculptures included in the exhibition. Large shell forms inlaid with exquisite materials which reference very personal themes.

    To hear the conversation press 'play' beneath the above feature photo. You can hear the previous 2019 podcast interview where Del talks about her life and art here.

    Scroll down for a short video of highlights of this conversation and footage of the exhibition on the Talking With Painters YouTube channel. 

    Current exhibition

    * 'the women who fell to earth' at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, 6 May to 28 May 2022* 'Blaze at the Tribeca Film Festival on 9, 10 and 17 June 2022* 'Blaze' at the Sydney Film Festival, 17, 18 and 19 June 2022

    Links to things we talk about on the show

    * Del Kathryn Barton on Instagram* Del Kathryn Barton at Roslyn Oxley 9* Del Kathryn Barton at Albertz Benda * Talking With Painters YouTube channel* 'Blaze' at the Tribeca Film Festival* 'Blaze' at the Sydney Film Festival


    the women who have gathered for the earth, 2021-22acrylic on linen203 x 353 cmSource: Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery website

    the women who came from the earth, 2022acrylic on linen203 x 303 cm

    her earth nature, 2022acrylic on linen243 x 203 cmSour...

    • 40 min.
    Ep 125: Steve Lopes -‘Encountered’

    Ep 125: Steve Lopes -‘Encountered’

    It's not often that an artist gets to see almost a quarter of a century of their work in one space but in this episode Steve Lopes tells me what that feels like.

    The impressive survey exhibition 'Encountered', curated by Kon Gouriotis and now showing at the S.H.Ervin Gallery in Sydney, brings together 120 of Steve Lopes' works including over 80 paintings and drawings, sketchbooks, prints and collages.

    This is a must-see exhibition especially for those interested in figurative painting.

    In my previous interview with Steve, he expressed the view that to be successful, a painting requires a gritty element - a bit of 'poison'. When I visited the exhibition a couple of weeks ago, though, it wasn't only that grittiness that struck me but also the humanity evident in the works, not only in the figures but also in the environments they inhabit.

    Desolate wartime landscapes hinting at the loss of human life, a dog wandering across a suburban backlot, figures enigmatically positioned on a coastal landscape; these scenes exude an air of melancholy but often also a familiarity.

    Steve has exhibited in close to 40 solo shows across Australia and in London and Hong Kong. He has won the Gallipoli Art Prize, the Kings School Art Prize and has been shortlisted in many others. His work is held in the National Gallery of Australia, the Parliament House Collection, the State Library of NSW and many other public and private collections.

    We met at the S.H.Ervin gallery as the exhibition was being installed and we talked about a selection of works (pictured below), the story behind them as well as insights into his practice.

    The show continues at the S.H.Ervin Gallery until 8 May 2022 and will then travel to Orange Regional Gallery where it will run from 21 May.

    To hear the podcast episode click 'play' beneath the above feature photo.

    Time stamps for each painting

    * 3:30 Trench Life* 8:25 Aurora Track* 12:45 Creek Bed Study* 16:00 Uncommon Figures* 27:15 Warren Ellis etching and painting* 29:49 Railway Club

    Exhibition details

    * Survey exhibition 'Encountered', S.H Ervin Gallery, Sydney, 26 March to 8 May 2022, then touring to:* Survey exhibition 'Encountered', Orange Regional Gallery, 21 May to 17 July 2022


    * Steve Lopes website* Lopes at Stella Downer Fine Art* Lopes at Mitchell Fine Art* Lopes at Queenscliff Gallery* Lopes at Penny Contemporary * Talking with Painters 2019 interview with Steve Lopes * Guy Warren * Euan Macleod* Luke Sciberras* a href="https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/168.2021/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=PR%20AGNSW%20acquires%20Spanish%20Baroque%20masterpiece...

    • 36 min.
    Ep 124: Marikit Santiago

    Ep 124: Marikit Santiago

    Marikit Santiago is one of Australia's most impressive artists, combining a skilful representational painting technique with powerful imagery.

    Mythology, Disney, her Filipino heritage, religion, guilt, motherhood and family are examples of the subject matter she draws from and her upcoming show, 'For us sinners' at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art in Sydney, is set to contain some of the most impactful work she has produced to date.

    What's equally striking is the contrast between her painting style and the surface on which she often chooses to paint: found cardboard, typically in the form of flattened packing boxes complete with rips, creases and packing tape!

    Marikit won the Art Gallery of NSW's Sulman prize in 2020 with her work ‘The Divine’, a painting of her three children who were also her collaborators. We talk in this episode about how they contribute to her practice and why that collaboration is so important to her work.

    Apart from winning the Sulman, Marikit has been a finalist in many other prizes including the Archibald prize twice.  She has exhibited in 6 solo shows and her upcoming exhibition at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art is her first institutional show. It is curated by Micheal Do and opens on 26 March 2022.

    We recorded this conversation in Marikit's garage studio with her stunning recent work, Thy Kingdom Come, leaning precariously against the easel. Rich with cultural and religious symbolism, as well as quite a few cartoon characters, the complex painting had been finished the day before our interview, after nine months' work.

    To hear the podcast episode click 'play' beneath the above feature photo.

    Scroll down for a short video of Marikit in her studio from the Talking with Painters YouTube channel .

    Current and upcoming exhibition

    * Solo exhibition 'For us sinners', 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney, 26 March to 15 May 2022 * Archibald Prize 2021, currently showing at Cowra Regional Art Gallery, NSW, until 1 May 2022


    * Marikit Santiago* Marikit Santiago on Instagram * Egon Schiele* Rodel Tapaya* Jojit Solano* Balikbayan Box* Aida Tomescu video


    Thy Kingdom Come, 2021 – 2022, interior paint, acrylic, oil, pyrography, pen, gold leaf on found cardboard (pen and paint markings by Santi Mateo Santiago and Sarita Santiago), collaboration with Maella Santiago, 167cm x 307cm. Courtesy of the artist and The Something Machine, Bellport, New York. Photo credit: Garry Trinh

    Tagsibol/tagsabong, 2019, acrylic, oil, pyrography, pen and paint on found cardboard144.5 x 214 cmFinalist, Sulman Prize, 2019, Art Gallery of NSW

    Filipiniana (self-portrait in collaboration with Maella Santiago Pearl), acrylic, interior paint, pen and oil on found cardboard110.5 x 100.

    • 58 min.
    Ep 123: Summer Series – Tom Carment

    Ep 123: Summer Series – Tom Carment

    I interviewed the acclaimed artist Tom Carment for the podcast in 2019 and this episode is the extended audio recording from video I filmed in his studio.

    A lot was going on creatively for Tom at the time. It was at about the same time as his book ‘Womerah Lane: Lives and Landscapes’ was released and his solo show at King Street gallery in Sydney was about to open.

    As soon as I arrived at his Womerah Lane terrace I saw that it was overtaken by preparations for that show. Once Tom has created his work he then makes their frames from beautiful Tasmanian blackwood and the frames were in various states of completion throughout the dining area and the studio.

    By coincidence, I’m publishing this episode as Tom is going through the very same process in the lead up to his next show with King Street Gallery which opens on 22 March 2022. It's taken over two months to make the frames. They are works of art in themselves with each corner joined with wooden keys and he thinks carefully about which work would best suit the timber of each unique frame.

    When I spoke with Tom he had been living in Adelaide where he and his wife Jan had pared back their belongings and rented a one-bedroom worker's cottage where they had only intended to stay for a year. But since then Covid took hold and his upcoming show is called ‘Two years in South Australia’.

    It's a beautiful body of work and what struck me in particular was a series of exquisite works of the lighthouse on Corny Point, Yorke peninsula, where he camped for several weeks and which he observed and painted at different times of the day.

    Tom has won numerous art prizes (including the Gallipoli, Mosman and NSW Parliament Plein Air Painting Prize) and has been shortlisted countless times in others including the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes and the Salon des Refuses. He has exhibited in over 25 solo shows and his work is held in public and private collections internationally. ‘Womerah Lane’, the latest of several books he has written, was shortlisted in the NSW Premier’s literary awards last year.

    You can see the edited video version of this recording on my YouTube channel here and listen to the previous podcast episode (ep 78) where Tom talks with me about his life and how he became an artist here.

    To hear this podcast episode click on 'play' beneath the above photo.

    Upcoming show

    * Solo show 'Two years in South Australia' at King Street Gallery, Sydney, 22 March to xx April 2022


    * Tom Carment website* Tom Carment at King Street Gallery * 'Womerah Lane: Lives and Landscapes'* YouTube Video of Tom Carment edited from this recording


    'Corny Point Lighthouse II', oil on marine ply, 16 x 21cm

    'Yellowtail Mackeral on Robert's plate', oil on linen, 30.5 x 38cm

    'Plane Tree, Mount Lofty, winter morning', oil on marine ply, 30.5 x 38cm

    'Returning surfer, Berry Bay', oil on linen, 25 x 30cm

    'Sugar Bananas', oil on linen, 25 x 30cm

    • 15 min.


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