Stephen Bush continues his longstanding explorations into the possibilities and limitations of narrative painting. Costumed figures, ornamental buildings, and outmoded tools emerge as artefacts unearthed from imagined vistas. For Bush, the depiction of landscape and History have always been inextricably linked. Whilst the landscape continually serves as a consistent subject and pictorial device, it holds fragmentary imagery that speaks to contradictory ideas. Previously obsolete objects regain utility. Flamboyance and excess are equally celebrated and rejected. Evoked, yet rarely made explicit, ideas of consumerist desire and economic class are conceptual threads to be followed throughout. In claiming, gesturing, re-packaging and re-presenting, these compositions reflect the knotty legacy of cultural imperialism. Two previously unseen early artworks included in Festooned, offer parallel readings on similar subject matter and related ideas. Using the classical pictorial language of genre painting, these static and seemingly mute works disrupt the fluidity and dynamism of the accompanying paintings. Acting as counterpoints to the immediacy and flux of our contemporary life.
Stephen Bush’s works are held in major public collections in Australia, as well as numerous private collections here and beyond. In his decades-long career, he has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants, and ahead of this exhibition he undertook the Australia Council Bow Quarter London Studio Residency.Artist’s profile