John Maitland

The Essence of Being

A new exhibition of paintings by John Maitland opens on December 2nd at our Gallery on the foyer level of the Sofital Wentworth Hotel, Sydney. 

John Maitland’s innovative style is created and conceived outdoors.

His pigments are mixed with organic and inorganic material and applied by his hand to bond with archival substrates to the support.

These are left outside, exposed to the elements, including the extreme heat of the sun. The built-up layers are encouraged to crack and fissure to give an aged appearance resembling archaic surfaces.

Dynamic and aggressive gestures are used to build up layers of paint which impart heavy texture and impasto. Broad, sweeping brush strokes and the brutality of paint application give rawness and beauty in an understated and sometimes unfinished way, thus the paradox of strength versus gentleness contributing to the evocative power and distinctive characteristics of Maitland’s style.

In some instances his work may seem näive, even primitive, with its flatness of planes and decorative effects. However, this is not so as proportions and space are carefully calculated with great precision to achieve his striking expressive style.

His flat colour and form, including facial features and bodily shapes, do not always reflect reality but that is unique to him as the artist.

In his latest exhibition Maitland has completed a number of works in red, a colour for which he is renowned. There are few artists who can match his versatility with this powerful primary. Some works have gold accompaniments serving to complement richness and impart luminosity to the myriad textures.

In quite a few works these elements have been used to underscore the isolation and alienation of youth. Expressed in the interdependence of landscape and figure, paintings that at first appear joyful and exuberant have an edge to them with frailty and vulnerability being exposed.