13 April –
10 May 2006
Stephen Bush


, 2006
Oil and enamel on linen
183 x 183cm

The fantastical in this new group of recent paintings by Melbourne –based artist, Stephen Bush lead the viewer down a weird and wonderful path. A series of lush, rich, explosive works, Bush further develops his mindful contemplation of the word “desire” and its many and varied implications.

Bush has established a strong presence in Australia for his depictions of diverse subjects such as potatoes, flies, farming machinery, antiquated computers, and ambiguous yet intriguing landscapes. In HEOVELAKEN, the artist extends his surreal world in the attempt to further explore an element which is unexplainable, one driven by the unconscious. Continuing with a fascination with the alpine vista/mountain location and home structures, the 8 large scale paintings suggest the mountain vista as a metaphor for life’s accent or quest for fulfilment, be it personal, spiritual or financial, relating to our individual inherent ambitions. Set against this energetic contemplation is the image of a dwelling, a fanciful form of shelter, individualised to meet our particular needs.

“Stephen Bush’s…landscapes contrast mountainous heights with small-scale wooden shacks, the tumultuous environs representing what Bush calls a ‘quest for fulfilment’ and the rough cabin symbolising a refuge.”

What is most important in these works is that part which is unexplainable, that part which is driven by the unconscious. The meaning can be found more in the process I use than in any other part.

As to the process: There are two stages in the development of the work. Stage one involves pouring paint directly onto the canvas and allowing a freeform image to appear. It is this balance between the pour/spill (free form expressive abstraction) and the tension of locating a narrative or pictorial reasoning that is of particular interest.

Stage two involves the development of the narrative. I work to discover or manipulate figurative elements with the information that presents itself in the ground. For the upcoming show I have continued my fascination with the alpine vista/mountain location and home structures. The mountain vista I see as a metaphor for life’s accent or quest for fulfilment be it personal, spiritual or financial, our ambitions. Set against this is the image of a dwelling- a fanciful form of shelter, individualized to meet our particular needs.

“Bush turns some of the landscape genre’s central terms inside out. Rather than a mind calmed by the natural environment, these paintings record the external manifestation of psychological trauma” – Nell McClister in Artforum.

Bush has moved on from his somewhat cynical, albeit beautifully executed, fascination for the heroic in art, to create strange, almost surrealist paintings of man-made structures in lurid colouration. Garish colouration, subjects almost medieval in a literal sense.

Artist’s profile