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Godwin Bradbeer: The Metaphysical Body

Opening at the Shepparton Art Gallery on Friday 21 July at 6.00pm is the exhibition ‘Godwin Bradbeer: The Metaphysical Body’.

This exhibition surveys 35 years of one of Australia’s most celebrated draftsmen, taking us from Bradbeer’s early photographic self-portraiture through key works in the artist’s career. Throughout, Bradbeer’s art takes up spiritual and psychological ideas using the human figure as his subject.

Curator of the exhibition Kirsten Lacy says that Bradbeer’s figures are not specific to identity, culture, character or gender.

“Working partly from life modelling and partly from memory he creates a kind of anthropological body, one that stands for a human psychology of spiritual yearning that is without time or place,” says Ms Lacy.

“Throughout this exhibition we see that his work takes shape around symbology and mythology peculiar to psycho-analytic theory and at others, in the Judaic/Christian realm,” she says.

“In his work our natural instinct for self-preservation, pleasure and procreation can be considered entwined with a yearning for origins and universal beginnings.”

In the monumental, cathedral-like scale of Bradbeer’s drawings viewers are confronted with how it is via the body, of the body and from the body we are conceived, encapsulated, born, sexed and nurtured. And yet ‘The Metaphysical Body’ is the body which represents beyond its own physical origins to something at once anthropological and eternal, and yet it is inherently tied to its cycles of development and regeneration. Using figuration as a cornerstone, Bradbeer delves into a pycho-spiritual realm emerging with works of omni-present power that are timeless in their implications.

In this exhibition we can see how Bradbeer’s early experimentation with photography led to his signature x-ray vision, where the internal skeletal structure of the figure is visible through the outer shell of the human form much like a CAT scan. Another drawing technique that emerged from photography is his use of solarisation. Here Bradbeer swaps the darkness and shadows on the body for light or white. Using these techniques, Bradbeer has created a body which can be penetrated and its hidden structures revealed, sometimes broken, fragile, latent or pregnant.

Bradbeer’s drawings are very dark, and at times black seems to blanket the page, like night closing in on the paper. The extensive use of black has led to a perception that Bradbeer’s artwork is inherently bleak and depressing.

However as the catalogue essayist Dr Neill Overton argues: “Bradbeer is fully aware of the evocative power of blackness to create monumental images, and for him the black envelope acts more as the sleep from which he rouses figures and forms … black is not only and always a metaphor for the grave”.

This exhibition is touring to McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park, La Trobe Regional Gallery, Grafton Regional Gallery and Mosmon Art Gallery. The exhibition will open in conjunction with ‘Bill Kelly – Markers Along the Way’ also being organised by Shepparton Art Gallery. 

Godwin Bradbeer will talk about his work at a seminar at the Shepparton Art Gallery on Saturday 22 July from 11.30am to 12.15pm. On the same day from 10.30 am, artist Bill Kelly will also discuss his work which will be on display at the Shepparton Art Gallery from 21 July to 3 September. Gold coin admission, morning tea is included. RSVP to the Shepparton Art Gallery on (03) 5832 9861.

William Kelly’s ‘Markers Along the Way’ at the Shepparton Art Gallery

Journalist John Lewis will be opening a new exhibition on Friday 21 July at 6.00pm at the Shepparton Art Gallery titled, “Markers Along the Way: An exhibition of prints by William Kelly”.

The exhibition, organised by the gallery, displays a collection of prints created by Nathalia based artist William Kelly from 1965 to 2005. It covers themes including still life, the human figure, informal portraits, images from theatre and images referencing social concerns.

Printmaking is often thought of as a ‘democratic’ or publicly accessible media because of its ability to produce multiple prints, making it easily accessible to the public. This suits Kelly, who philosophically marries his commitment to social and humanist concerns with his love of and commitment to art. Master printer Larry Rawling recently commented: “Kelly was the first artist to make screen prints by drawing on textured acetate allowing them to have a more direct drawing quality”.

While being known principally as a painter and draughtsman, Kelly’s prints have quietly travelled across the globe and achieved significant international recognition. He has created prints on four continents, printed in almost every medium and on almost every surface. His exhibition ‘Markers Along the Way’ includes hand coloured and hand worked prints, woodblock and lino prints, etchings and aquatints, dry point, stone and plate lithographs, screen prints, electrostatic/photocopy, plan printing, digital, dot matrix and inkjet prints. 

As John Lewis recently wrote in the Shepparton News: “Bill Kelly operates on a global level, but lives and works in a village”. How lucky we are that the village he has chosen is in our neighborhood.

The exhibition will open in conjunction with “Godwin Bradbeer – ‘The Metaphysical Body’ 1970 – 2005” being organised by the gallery. 

William Kelly will talk about his work at a seminar at the gallery on Saturday 22 July from 10.30am to 11.15am. On the same day artist Godwin Bradbeer will discuss his work which will be on display at the gallery from 21 July to 3 September. Gold coin admission, Morning tea is included. RSVP to the gallery on 5832 9861.

William Kelly will also be special guest speaker at the next Friends of the Gallery Coffee Morning on Wednesday 2 August at 10.30am.