Darryn George’s grasses, shrubs & trees is an unexpected exhibition, possessing all the hallmarks of a midlife crisis, a moment where, what once seemed important in your life is transcended by something more necessary. The grasses, shrubs and trees in George’s new paintings have replaced the geometric -abstract forms and shadowy tonalities of his stacked ‘stairways to heaven’, transcended by a Matisse-inspired colour palette and the gathering of crowds encircled by brightly coloured vegetation.
If George’s painting has previously been thoroughly connected to a history of abstraction that confirmed his affiliations to artists like Geoff Thornley, now his paintings seem to share (as someone recent commented to me) the spirit of Andy Leleisiu'ao’s iconography, an empathy with the notion of empowerment and wellbeing through community interaction.
Yet, conversely the paintings in grasses, shrubs & trees do remain concerned with the premise of a stairway to heaven, the exhibition’s title and its imagery, directing attention to the possibilities of our relationship with the natural world and the potential of a heaven on earth. It is an unexpected proposition from George’s practice. Nevertheless, it is one that is utterly pertinent and worthy of more direct and serious consideration.
Darryn George, grasses, shrubs & trees
Darryn George, Mara #24, 2020, oil pastel and acrylic on canvas