“Although in his recent paintings the landscape is clearly the source and impetus for his imagery, the muscularity and painterliness of his surfaces clearly show that he has brought to these works the lessons and disciplines of abstract painting. These paintings – although landscapes – could only have been made by a sophisticated abstract painter.” (1)
The unusual, atypical evolution of Neil Frazer’s oeuvre from abstraction (imbued and informed) with a profound sense of the real world to that of representational renditions that ‘capture’ and present the ‘physical’ reality of specific places is remarkable. Add to this, the astonishing artistic achievement resulting plus a restless experimentation and we get taken in this exhibition to the Auckland west coast beach of Karekare, and to what are undeniable facts – that Frazer’s vision and delivery of that location and landscape is utterly unlike any other that has preceded it.
Frazer introduces important new elements in these works of the sea, reflection and develops a very low line of sight. Significant amongst the many attributes of these paintings is the viewer’s sense of participation and involvement.
He takes the viewer on a journey to the place itself, to what is there and what happens when there. He establishes the ‘actual’ physical character – not by describing – but through an intense amalgam of fact and fiction. The viewer goes ‘amongst’ and ‘in’. He ‘sculpts’ the location (seemingly using the real geomorphic elements of these places) by establishing belief. He does this through using paint build-up to emote the nature of the landform and its geological, seasonal, and vegetative characteristics. We see light strike, valleys made with modulating tonal darkness, the contrast of landscape silhouetted against a clear sky. Frazer varies his modelling of paint, alters the direction of his ‘brush’ stroke, and the roles performed by surface, texture, allusion and illusion.
1. Martin Browne, quoted in “White-out” by Donna Duggan, Mindfood, April 2008, p.193.