Geometric abstraction with spiritual and emotional content

Reason and Intuition. By Andrew Christofides. Nancy Sever Gallery, Gorman Arts Centre, 55 Ainslie Ave, Braddon. Until August 19.

Andrew Christofides is a rare and exquisite Sydney-based artist who progressively grows in stature with every exhibition.

Andrew Christofides, Byzantium II. 2009 in Reason and Intuition at Nancy Sever Gallery.

Andrew Christofides, Byzantium II. 2009 in Reason and Intuition at Nancy Sever Gallery.

Photo: Supplied

Born in Nicosia in Cyprus, he came to Australia as a five-year-old child in 1951 and completed an economics degree in Sydney before working for a couple of years in the taxation office in Canberra. By 1974, Christofides’ passion for art grew stronger than his desire for economic security and he quit his job, travelled to Cyprus, and then on to London where he was accepted into the Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting and subsequently the Chelsea School of Art.

Christofides’ earliest paintings had a minimal, geometric austerity, but with time his art has mellowed; it has become more personal, complex and imbued with a growing spiritual content. Although he works in acrylics, he applies his colour in thin glazes, so that there is an inner radiance and depth in the resonance of colour. The palette is rich, but subdued, while the compositional balance and structure is painstakingly and exactly calculated.

This is an exhibition where there are no duds; a collection of quiet meditations on themes close to the artist’s heart. The painting Byzantium II (2009) may take some of its geometric forms from the episcopal markings found on the garments of Greek Orthodox bishops as depicted in the medieval murals and icons of Cyprus, but the forms have been carefully distilled. There is a pattern within a pattern in the form of a subtle variation on a theme. The ochres, reds and whites are more reminiscent of the palette encountered in Australian Aboriginal art, than that of Byzantium. A quiet spiritualism prevails in the work.

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