Panoramas | 06 - 30 APRIL 2018
By Robert Hollingworth
Artistic merit can be determined by asking two simple questions: does the work have something to say, and does it say it well? Students of art grapple with the former – having something to say – their limitedlife experience doesn’t help. Initiates also grapple with the latter – saying something well. That means finding a suitable medium – oil, acrylic, watercolour, bronze, felt, video – and learning how to engage with it.
Stefan Gevers has long past this stage. He knows what he wants to say and has found his medium, predominantly watercolour, which he handles as though the stuff is in his bloodstream. He is aware that it’s notabout mastering the medium. Instead, he recognises clearly what watercolour wants to do all by itself and has learned to collaborate with it, to work in tandem – artist and medium – so that the outcome rewards both. Balance and unity are not just properties of composition but of process as well. So, good painting is really a love affair.
A glance at Stefan Gevers’ work is enough to appreciate thispleasing relationship. Nothing is forced, nothing feigned, there’s nocharade. He sees, he feels, he translates directly, no preliminary studies, no pre-drawing or marking out. Composing goes on in the artist’s headjust as it might for a composer of music.
This kind of forthrightness in contemporary art is rarer than some may think. Many artists feel there is some imperative to hunt downnovelty, and believe art is about trends and ideas when perhaps it’s muchmore about insight. Perception and empathy are this artist’s stock in trade.
Stefan Gevers was born in the Netherlands, leaving in 1993 totravel ‘as far away as possible’. He fell in love with Australia, and over thelast twenty years has toured extensively, the main inspiration for his work being nature and the landscape. No doubt, the sheer expansiveness of this country lies in sharp contrast to the Netherlands, a fact that must have impressed the very first Dutch explorers as well.
The paintings in this current show are inspired by a round trip from Melbourne to Ulladulla in NSW and back again. The works do not include much evidence of human interaction. Instead, Gevers prefers to locate aspects of the land uncontaminated by human activity. He seeks out these culture-free zones and seems to suggest that they’re worthregarding, worth preserving, if humans are ever to enjoy a dignified future.
Robert Hollingworth April 2018