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David Thomas: Colouring Impermanence



Artist David Thomas challenges us to pause, look attentively and reconsider the world around us with empathy.

David Thomas: Colouring Impermanence brings together more than 100 works from over four decades to RMIT Design Hub, Friday 28 July until Saturday 23 September 2017.

For the first time, this major exhibition brings together works from the 1970s to the present day. David Thomas explores ideas that are deeply human – the contemplative function of painting, photo-painting and installation in our increasingly pressured, augmented and shared contemporary lives.

“Painting offers an opportunity to reflect on the complexity of our responses; emotional and conceptual; imaginative and tactile. The works enable the viewer to understand the movement of meaning over time and to contemplate the transitory, unstable nature of being and perceiving”, says Thomas.

Curated by Fleur Watson, the exhibition is made up of two inter-connected yet distinct spaces reflecting different stages in his long-distinguished career.

Project Room 1 is a contemplative and experiential space with a series of works from Thomas’ archive as well as new works created directly in response to Design Hub. Large-scale monochrome and reflection paintings operate as surface and offer illusionary depth; folding together real and pictorial space as well as time.

The mobile monochrome series Taking a Line for a Walk (2011) brings together Thomas’ playful sense of humour together with a deep contemplation of mortality, transience and our passage through what he describes as the “wonder of the everyday world”.

Project Room 2 is conceived as a studio-like environment. Works from early figurative drawings through to contemporary paintings are presented with works by peers, alongside collaborative projects such as those with international collective Concrete Post.

A series of drawings in folios from the 1970s to the present day, brings together drawings from Thomas’ transition period between figuration and abstraction as well as early explorations into colour, time and duration through photo-paintings and composites.

The exhibition culminates with a large-scale and immersive installation entitled Impermanences – works made on thin paper with opaque media. The emphasis on touch and its duration creates an unstable surface that is subject to the conditions of change, challenging value in painting.

An innovative public program will see Design Hub present a micro-course – through eight lessons participants will experiment with drawing, painting and photography and participate in tutorials and group discussions with Thomas and his peers and collaborators. Each lesson unpacks the ideas explored in Thomas’ work and his approach to helping students develop their own creative practices. These are free events.

David Thomas is Professor of Fine Art (Painting) in the School of Art, RMIT.

He exhibits widely in Australia, the Asia- Pacific and Europe and has curated many international exhibitions and written on Eastern and Western art.

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