Yavuz Gallery Sydney is pleased to present Guy Maestri in his inaugural exhibition with the gallery titled short stories. This exhibition also marks his first solo presentation in his hometown in six years.
With a practice that spans over two decades, the Archibald-winning Australian painter and sculptor is renowned for his highly textural, expressive works that explore painted materiality, gesture and observation.
Often beginning his paintings en plein air, Maestri will rework his canvases, finally pushing them to completion within the walls of his industrial Marrickville studio. Working within a strong tradition of Australian landscape paintings, Maestri embraces painting in the bush in the open air. He has embarked on many journeys across the Australian mainland to paint its vast and varied landscape.
It is over the course of frequent visits to the regional New South Wales towns of Hill End, Mount Victoria and Mudgee that Maestri commenced the paintings in this new body of work short stories. The exhibition comprises eight individual large-scale paintings and one diptych; all depicting a different view of the landscape in a notably portrait format. While alluding to native and introduced flora that is distinctly Australian, the simple forms and emotive colours directly references children books.
Maestri’s new body of work is inspired by some of the mystical landscapes in the story books he reads to his son every night, some of which his mother read to him as a child. In the studio, the paintings depart from their en plein air beginnings to become imaginary, playful worlds that sway in and out of reality.
With this new body of work, Maestri departed from a more traditional earthy colour palette to embrace bold and strong non-naturalistic colours such as bright yellows, pinks and blues, some of them applied directly from the tube. By thick layering of flat blocks and patches of colour, the shapes are simplified to the point of abstraction. Maestri creates pictorial spaces that echo the two-dimensionality of the canvas.
Using an impasto technique, Maestri’s gestural painting practice leaves brush or painting-knife strokes visible. The movement and energy that transpire from his fierce painterly mark-making reveal lush, dynamic and lively landscapes.
Playing with abstraction and loose brushworks has allowed Maestri to inhabit a new realm where he wanders about in his paintings; a process that he describes as both “automatic and meditative”. It is, without a doubt, this newfound playfulness that has enabled him to move away from the reality of his subjects offering portals to surreal wonderlands.