Contour: David Fairbairn at James Makin Gallery

David Fairbairn, Large Head DG No.3, 2010, 172 x 198cm
David Fairbairn, Large Head DG No.3, 2010, 172 x 198cm

This solo exhibition by David Fairbairn displays this artist’s unique, almost architectural descriptions of the human form. Fairbairn’s art making practice is largely dedicated to the medium of drawing, and he is recipient of some of the major drawing prizes in Australia.  There is a genre of 20th century draftsmanship that has been navigated by artists such as Alberto Giacometti, Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff and Cy Twombly, and that is the area of the well-wrought autonomous drawing. It begins as a line made, something where there was nothing, perhaps based on a thing perceived, or felt, and then grows.  An identifiable form sometimes emerges, sometimes not, yet what is apparent on the paper surface is a visual energy, a mark that has grown out of a succession of starts, erasions and restarts, a misting pentimento into which the final mark is laid. Fairbairn works up his surfaces and layers his imagery, teasing out form through marks made that describe both the physicality of his sitter, along with less tangible qualities and a raw energy.

Fairbairn studied in the U.K. at the Central School of Art and Design, and the Royal Academy and therefore has experienced firsthand the evolution of drawing that has taken place within the School of London, particularly by the hands of Auerbach and Kossoff. He arrived in Australia in 1981 and currently lives and works at Wedderburn south of Sydney. His practice involves drawing from life on a regular basis, which lends these works their sense of immediacy expressed through perceptual mark-making. Along with numerous mixed media drawings this exhibition also includes a fantastic selection of etchings in which he continues his figurative explorations.

Fairbairn’s list of prizes is impressive and includes: The Fishers Ghost Art Prize in 1997; the Conrad Jupiter Purchase Prize, 1998; the Dobell Drawing Prize, 1999 and the Doug Moran Prize for Portraiture, in 2002, the Kedumba Drawing Award in 2009 amongst others. This is his first solo exhibition at James Makin Gallery.

When: 7 – 30 October 2010

Where: James Makin Gallery, 67 Cambridge St, Collingwood, VIC