John Earle’s studio is a contemporary, colourful and lively space. It is filled with several works in progress, exciting experimental pieces and an eclectic collection of his earlier paintings and sculptures. In other words, John Earle’s studio is exactly the sort of place you would expect to find such a talented and critically acclaimed artist at work!
While guiding me through the studio recently, John pointed out examples of the three key styles he has been developing throughout his career – styles that bring together elements of hyper-realism, abstraction and pop. While he is inspired by many artists and contemporary concepts, John attributes his most recent drive to a combination of the realistic landscapes he has painted throughout his long career, popism and the large scale work of American artist Chuck Close. Like Close, John is very interested in the technical process, and spends considerable time working on fine detail. In my opinion this is time very well spent, as each of his artworks are exquisitely detailed and demonstrate meticulous technical ability.
John paints both in the studio and en plein air. He believes that the way a person works en plein air, or outdoors within the elements without any photographic assistance, gives an indication of the true style that they bring to all their work. When working both en plein air and within the studio environment he paints and draws with realistic precision. Most people are familiar with his hyper-real exaggerations of the landscape, that enable the viewer to experience it as if they were there. Often, local weather reporters will introduce a fine and sunny day as “A John Earle type of day” – meaning that it is clear, beautiful and a day to enjoy.
Not one to stand still, John’s most recent series of work is a contrast to this hyper-real work that has made him famous. This current studio series sees him moving towards the abstract, with one foot firmly planted in realism. Describing these new works as “pixelated” or “abstract impressionism”, John believes that this new work emphasises “colour and light rather than line and shape”.
These artworks depict landscapes in a grid structure. When admiring them I am instinctively reminded of early 1980s pixel art, or images that have been deconstructed using some form of raster graphics software. The result, a post-modern appropriation of the traditional landscape transposed in a semi-abstract representation, is colourful, vibrant and engaging – perfect for the contemporary interior.
KAB Gallery has exhibited (and sold) a few early previews from this abstract series, but it was a joy to view such an impressive and progressed body of work coming together in the studio. Some pieces were complete and ready for framing, while others were just in the early conceptual stage.
It was an extremely thought-provoking mix of styles, but believe me when I tell you it is great! It’s post-modernism at its best and I look forward to seeing more!
John Earle is one of Australia’s most renowned landscape painters. He has been awarded the prestigious Elioth Gruner Prize for Landscape in 1980, has been a finalist in the Wynne Prize six times (1981, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992 & 1994) and travelled extensively for art residencies, research and commissions.
To learn more about John and see more of his art click here