Cover image of the review
Installation view of *Collection leads: John Scurry—Small Paintings*, 2019, Geelong Art Gallery, Geelong. Photo: Andrew Curtis

Collection leads: John Scurry—small paintings

9 Nov 2019
Geelong Gallery 14 Sep - 24 Nov 2019

It's declared in the title—these are small paintings. Unframed, diminutive and brief sketches attached to mounting boards, they're physically bookended by two larger and more 'substantial' paintings. These works are ephemeral—painted in oil directly on cardboard, these images will deteriorate. We're told by the exhibition text that they were never intended for public viewing. Yet, amidst the advertised minority of the works it comprises, Collection leads: John Scurry—small paintings nonetheless manages to convey a feeling of a momentous and complicated nature. The larger paintings could be read as 'compensation'. But if we consider the works chronologically—Winter is from 1981, An Assembly from 2016, the 37 small paintings were completed between 2018–2019—we're put in an odd situation of reading these smaller paintings as the culmination of the artist's labour to date. On closer inspection, the works on show are nuanced and loose, evocative of an ambiguous atmosphere seemingly informed at once by the natural landscape and by the more intangible inflections of memory and imagination.

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