Flux, Form and the Freeman Effect by Vicki Finkelstein

Freeman’s paintings are abstract, but the works also contain elliptical evocations of ideas and possibilities beyond themselves. Their synthesis of high- and low-tech methodology and their combination of structure and disorder, hard and soft focus, suggest that comprehension and knowledge are inconstant and unstable.

As the artist states: “You can be forgiven for confusing which side of culture or counter-culture you sit. Current technology will afford safe passage, whichever path you desire, knowingly or otherwise. Seeing is no longer believing.”

I’ve had the absolute pleasure of watching the metamorphosis of painter, Marc Freeman over the past few years. And what a fantastic unfurling of fabulousness it has been. We chat for a bit about his penchant for quality linen which he hand-stretches over the frames in preparation for ideas ripe for exploration.

After completing a coveted Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship, at Red Gate in Beijing, Freeman has been busy exhibiting work at SCOPE NY Art Fair as well as a finalist in the recently published Thames & Hudson tome, 100 Painters of Tomorrow and was lucky enough to enjoy attending openings in both London and New York.

Fast forward a few years, happily married to architect, Lauren Zmood – they decide to make a bold and strategic move to sink their teeth into a bite of the big apple and set up family digs in Brooklyn accompanied by their two young children. In order to best penetrate the marketplace as one of opportunity given NYC’s recent love affair with all things Australian  again, the timing couldn’t be better aligned for Freeman to stretch his wings.

Recent installation images taken at Cloudstreet exhibition opening at Blockprojects newly minted gallery space in Cremorne, Melbourne.

Marc Freeman
Cloudbuster #7, 2018
canvas, acrylic, enamel and digital-print on linen
80 x 65.5cm

Marc Freeman
Cloudbuster #4, 2018
canvas, acrylic, enamel and digital-print on linen
80 x 65.5cm

Collection of abstract paint and collage works, find their resonance in technique and recurrence. Revelling in repetitions of materials, processes and motifs, scrubbed, washed and faded oils are reconfigured and recast, echoed in various collaged forms; swathes of canvas from larger pieces appear throughout the works on paper in a fascination inversion of materials. With time, hints of figuration and gesture emerge – a skull-like shape seems of particular interest to Freeman – only to drift back into abstraction.

It’s a quality that permeates his canvases on several planes, evident in the treatment of the the painted surface. Sponged and rubbed, it might usually invoke a weathered ambience, but his arresting use of collage gives his work a striking sensibility. I am left grasping at hints and clues. Freeman tests and defies his own bounds with every stroke, scrub, cut and layer.

veg out-marc-detail2



#marcfreeman #new #works #abstractart#paintings #nkn #visit #new #richmond #gallery#contemporaryart #artcollector #original #art#supportlocalartists #invest in #talent #gallerylife#melbourne #art #scene

@marc.freeman @blockprojects


The Finkelstein Files: Art Appreciation 101

Why does art matter?? For without perspective, life would be awfully dull!  It is our most expressive form of sharing. Art matters because it illustrates the human experience—the wonder of it, the bewilderment of it, the whimsy of it, and so much more. We would not be connected so deeply without the existence of art

The arts matter because they help us see the world from different perspectives. They give us empathy and help us understand people, places, periods of history, and issues with which we may otherwise be unfamiliar. They comfort us in grief and energise us in celebration. They are important because they can act as a catalyst for change…they can start a revolution! The arts ignite something in our brains that I can’t explain, but I know it’s essential for life.

Above: Artwork by painter Michael Whitehead, Document, 2018, Mixed Media on Linen, 150 x 200cm. Interior styling courtesy of Melissa Gries of Zenza Interiors.

Are you a newbie to the art of collecting? Here is a substantial reason how you can start your very own art collection! Post October this year, if you have a registered ABN for a business which is turning over under $10million annually, an art work upto $30,000 will be fully tax deductible under current ATO regulations.

So effectively, you could purchase 5 x paintings at $30,000 each & have something to show for $150,000 taxable amount owing. No better time to invest in an art collection! Read more HERE by arts accountant specialist & valuer, Michael Fox regarding the recent ATO updates.

Above: Artwork by painter Michael Whitehead, Manuscript, 2018, Mixed Media on Linen, 180 x 210cm. Price on Application: art@thierrybfineart.com

Above: Artwork by painter Michael Whitehead, H, 2018, Mixed Media on Linen, 180 x 210cm. Price on Application: art@thierrybfineart.com

Above: Artwork by Patricia Heaslip, Walk In Silence, Oil on Canvas, 122 x 122cm. Price on Application: art@thierrybfineart.com


Above: Artwork by Thierry B., Nuanced, 2018 – Dreamscape series, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Canvas, 122 x 183cm. Price on Application: art@thierrybfineart.com

Above: Artwork by Thierry B., Fairytale, 2018 Dreamscape Series, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Linen, 152 x 122cm. Price on Application: art@thierrybfineart.com


Above: Artwork by Wilson LinThe Things We Do For Love, Fractal Series, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Canvas, 183 x 274.5cm (triptych). Price on Application: art@thierrybfineart.com

Above: Artwork by Wilson LinFresh Strike, 2018, Fractal Series, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Canvas, 170 x 250cm. Price on Application: art@thierrybfineart.com


Above: Artwork by Thierry B., Mindful Moments, 2018 Dreamscape Series, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Linen, 152 x 122cm. Price on Application: art@thierrybfineart.com


Above: Artwork by Patricia Heaslip, Landlines, Oil on Linen, 183 X 183cm. Price on Application: art@thierrybfineart.com

Above: Artwork by Thierry B., Entanglement, 2018 Coral Series, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Linen, 152 x 122cm. Price on Application: art@thierrybfineart.com


Above: Artwork by Thierry B.,Voyage, 2018,Synthetic Polymer Paint on Linen, 122 x 91.5cm. Price on Application: art@thierrybfineart.com

Above: Artwork by Thierry B.,The Deep Blue, 2018, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Linen, 183 x 183cm. Price on Application: art@thierrybfineart.com

Above: Artwork by Thierry B.Starling Zen-sation, 2016,Synthetic Polymer Paint on Linen, 183 x 183cm. Price on Application: art@thierrybfineart.com

If you have a registered ABN for a business which is turning over under $10million annually, an art work upto $20,000 will be fully tax deductible under current ATO regulations. So effectively, you could purchase 5 x paintings at $20,000 each & have something to show for $100,000 taxable amount owing. No better time to invest in an art collection! Read more HERE by arts accountant specialist & valuer, Michael Fox regarding the recent ATO updates.

The Thierry B Fine Art website offers a complete stockroom to view available works, interior pages with the paintings installed into their new homes for inspiration, in addition to a testimonial page which sounds positively smarmy – every word is true!!! We look forward to welcoming you into our bespoke gallery space, complete with oversize stockroom for your viewing pleasure.

Thierry B Fine Art  is located @ 473 Malvern Rd, South Yarra. Gallery hours: Monday – Saturday 11am – 5pm & Sunday 12pm – 5pm or by appointment via art@thierrybfineart.com


The Finkelstein Files: The Fine Art of Investment!

Wondering how to maximise your tax return for your business and feel like you’ve come out somehow on top?! With Australia’s tax breaks available to businesses which turnover under $10 million annually, owning your own art collection has never been so simple.

Michael Fox, a leading Melbourne tax accountant specialising in the arts explains, “The rules changed about two years ago regarding buying art for your business,” explains Michael Fox. “Today in Australia it is much easier to gain tax breaks for buying works of under $20,000 than it ever was before,” he says. Fox who helps people with their tax every day says one of the big loopholes people can exploit, is the “Turnbull’s Tradies” – a Small Business raft of tax measures, which allows small businesses to claim their expenses up to $20,000. “If you have an ABN, then under the small business act you can claim the entire sum of that purchase up to the tune of $20,000 each; A small business meaning turnover of less than $10 million dollars annually.

“This rule means you can buy as many individual art works as you like worth just under $20,000 each and claim them as a legitimate business expense. For example if you wanted you could buy five artworks for $19,990 each and claim a tax write-off of close to $100,000 by buying those 5 works. “I don’t think the government really intended it to be a tax break for the arts industry. At the time it was introduced so that tradespeople could claim the expense of a utility vehicle. “It is not that widely understood,” Fox says.


Above: Painting by Wilson Lin, Spatiality, 2017, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Linen, 122 x 91.5cm, $ 5,500. Sculpture by Jane Valentine, Harmonic Lines III, 2007, Marble on Granite base, 48 (dia) x 25 (d) x 90(h) cm, P.O.A


Above: Wilson Lin working on his Fractal series in studio, Melbourne, Australia.


Above: Wilson Lin, A Glimmering Sheet, 2018, Fractal series, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Linen, 122 x 91.5cm, $5,500


Thierry B Fine Art showcases the Abstract paintings and sculpture from over a dozen Australian artists. Master painter and designer, Thierry B, will also scope your home or business space and recommend the ideal proportions. The South Yarra-based state-of-the-art gallery, Thierry B Fine Art provides a turn-key solution for our valued clients – where guesswork has been eliminated for you.

With prices starting from $2,500 upto $55,000, paintings are given the royal treatment proudly sporting a custom-made frame, complimentary nation-wide delivery & installation.

Above: Master Abstract Expressionist painter Thierry B. pictured in his Huntingdale studio, Melbourne, Australia.


Above: Thierry B., Contrast, 2017, Groove Series, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Linen, 122 x 183cm, Corporate collection, Craigieburn Victoria.

Above: Patricia Heaslip, Landlines, 2015, Oil on Linen, 183 x 183cm, $15,000


Above: Michelle Breton, Trompette au Soleil, 2017, Mixed Media on Canvas, 153 x 137cm, $9,900


Gallery Manager and art curator, Vicki Finkelstein explains, “that while some people might be intimidated by going to a gallery and asking prices, new collectors should never be scared to talk about the budget they have in mind for buying art. “We can guide people to incredibly collectible museum quality work for under $20,000. We often work to very tight briefs for offices, homes and new collectors. Interior designers and architects for example will always come to us with a budget in mind, so we’re accustomed to taking clients through our stockroom to find the right work,” Finkelstein says.


Above: Thierry B. Dreamscape Series, Suddenly Clare, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Linen, 183 x 300cm, custom-framed in water-gilded, 18-carat gold, P.O.A


Above: Thierry B. La Vie En Rose, 2018, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Linen, 152 x 122cm, custom-framed in water-gilded, 18-carat gold, $15,000


Are you developing a corporate culture in your business? Are you running a business in a cut throat industry? Wanting to attract great clients and retain incredible staff? Then buy art. Not only will you claim the expense of making your office look cool, but if you are in charge, at the top end of town, you can curate a serious corporate collection.

Once you amass a cool art collection you can tour the work or open it to the public. At the top end of town the ultimate, is when these companies appoint someone as a curator and actually put together a decent collection. Then those sorts of exhibitions can go touring around the country. Granted with the name of the company attached, but still, it’s a form or a good will and very clever marketing.


Above: Richard Lewer, Untitled #27 (Tax Time Again), 2016, Langridge pigmented ink on sandpaper, 28cm by 23cm. Collection of Michael Fox Arts Accountant & Valuer.

Overseas this is common practice. Here in Australia companies like Wesfarmers, BresicWhitney, Allens and SBS all have great corporate collections the public can visit. Collecting art for your company isn’t just about tax savings or marketing. There have been several studies that show people who work in environments with nice artwork tend to be more productive.

Resident Curator at Allens Linklaters Maria Poulos can concur. Their collection was formed under the direction of Hugh Jamieson, a former partner at Allens, who left a legacy of 900 modern paintings. When he retired in 1995 he left behind a collection that has become central to the company’s vision and values, a collection that has continued to expand.

“The Collection represents an important part of Allens’ corporate identity and its connection to a much wider cultural world. In another sense, it’s a sign of good citizenship and creates a ‘civilised workplace’,” Poulos explains.


Above: Painting by Tim Blashki, Container/Contained, 2013, Acrylic on Board, 100 x 540cm, $20,000. Sculpture by Jane Valentine, Shielding II, 2014, Stauario Marble on granite base, 100 (h) x 90 (w) x 25 (d)cm, P.O.A

Above: Sculpture by Jane Valentine, Shielding II, 2014, Stauario Marble on granite base, 100 (h) x 90 (w) x 25 (d)cm, P.O.A


Today, corporate collections are generally no longer seen simply as a way of decorating a company’s foyer, boardroom or offices. Instead, they are seen as a marketing tool that assists in defining a corporation’s brand or reputation. Many of the organisations that focus on collecting contemporary art are in competitive industries where it is necessary to project an image of being a forward thinking, dynamic and progressive market leader in order to attract the best staff and clients.

Above: Michael Whitehead, diptych, Outcrop & Plateau, 2018, Mixed Media on Linen, 180 x 140cm, Corporate collection, South Yarra, Australia.


Shannan Whitney who is the CEO and Founder of BresicWhitney has watched his corporate collection grow considerably since he purchased a Bill Henson for his office back in 2003. “Art was introduced consciously quite early on. It was an important mechanism to connect customers with our brand within a physical space. It was also a nice connection piece for our staff,” Whitney says. Today he points out, that in all four of his offices, art plays a strong, but silent role.

“Firstly it’s unexpected which is great. Secondly like all art is supposed to do, it prompts a response and reaction, which is valuable and finally I think it has been an effective in helping people connect our brand with our vision,” he says. Maria Poulos echoes this sentiment at Allens, sighting the impact on staff as ‘positive’. “Lawyers often comment on the art as a great conversation starter with new clients – a handy way to break the ice. Even if someone remarks unfavourably, ‘How can you put up with that?’, art has stimulated discussion and a different way of looking at things,” she says.

Thierry B Fine Art is located at 473 Malvern Rd, South Yarra.

Gallery hours: Monday – Saturday, 11am – 5pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm or by appointment: 0404861438.


Thierry B Fine Art: What Makes Contemporary Aboriginal Art?

What Makes Contemporary Aboriginal Art ?

The contradiction of Aboriginal art is that it is both timeless and contemporary at the same time. This duality challenges the Western understanding of the progress of culture and ideas. Since Aboriginal culture is the oldest continuous living culture in the world , her artwork has existed for 40,000 years and is rooted in the human pre-history. Through songs, rituals, dances, storytelling, symbols and meaningful patterns that are being passed on, Aboriginal groups have managed to preserve their culture for thousands of years. When a group of elder desert men first started to paint their cultural heritage using paper and canvas, that was the birth of the movement that much influenced Aboriginal communities and Australian art in general. For the majority of Westerners, this was the first encounter with Aboriginal culture in general. Having a timeless connection to the pre-history and the first inhabitants of the Australian landscape, Aboriginal art has also been perceived as an innovative and iconic art form inherent to Australia.

Gloria Petyarre, Bush Medicine Leaves, Acrylic on Linen, 204 x 139 cm.

The Origins of Aboriginal Contemporary Art

The first desert works emerged in Papunya in 1971. A white Australian teacher and art worker Geffrey Bardon who was working in a remote community in Central Australia started an art program with children and elder men in the village. When elder men started to translate their knowledge of traditional folklore onto canvas, this was the birth of the contemporary art movement. Soon after, eleven men have formed a cooperative called Papunya Tula Artists, and the movement started to generate a widespread interest across rural and remote Aboriginal Australia.  Over subsequent decade as many Aboriginal communities contributed with their specific culture and knowledge, these differences developed into different pictorial languages and regional styles emphisizing their diversity. These initial works that include pieces by now famous Aboriginal artists such as Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri and Kaapa Tjampitjinpa, are today considered as the foundation of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement and are accounted as very valuable. The art critic and writer Robert Hughes has described the rise of contemporary Australian Aboriginal Art as ‘the latest great art movement of the twentieth century’.

Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Narripi Worm Dreaming, ADG:845, 1997, 125 x 96cm.

The Symbol As a Language

Since Aborigines didn’t have a history of writing, they have a long tradition of communicating their stories and heritage graphically through symbols. This ancient iconography has transferred into contemporary art works. Often reflecting the spiritual traditions, cultural practices and sociopolitical circumstances of indigenous people, stories and symbols vary widely among the diverse Aboriginal cultures. They range from ones derived from the hunting and tracking background portraying animals and humans with marks they leave or certain clan patterns to aspects of their ‘Dreaming’. The Dreamtime is a translation of the Creation time for Aboriginal people, and it provides their identity and the connection to the land. Artists often need a permission to paint certain traditional stories, and this right is inherited.

Sally Gabori, DulkaWarngiid, 2007, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Canvas, 195 x 610cm. Collection: National Gallery of Victoria.

The Aboriginal Art Today

Contemporary indigenous artists have won many of Australia’s most prominent art prizes not only reserved for indigenous art. Also, Aboriginal artists have represented Australia in the Venice Biennale in 1990 and 1997. Today, Aboriginal art is internationally acclaimed and recognized as fine art. It ranges across a wide variety of mediums from works on paper and canvas to fiber, glass and printmaking. Rooted in traditional iconography, the works are often remarkably modern in design and color. Some of the most prominent names include Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Kaapa Tjampitjinpa,Emily Kngwarreye, Lorna Napurrula Fencer, Christine Napanangka Michaels, Rover Thomas and Gloria Petyarre. There has been a number of Aboriginal artists, such as Michael CookWilliam King Jungala or his daughter Sarrita King who have developed a very unique contemporary style combining their Aboriginal heritage with practices and techniques closer to the Western contemporary art. Albert Namatjira, one of the pioneers of Contemporary Aboriginal art, produced western style landscapes different to the traditional Aboriginal art style. On the other hand, there is a number of artists who ethnically and culturally identify as indigenous, but have adopted global art practices and recognizably Western style. Labeling them as Aboriginal artists have caused political controversies and raised questions on conventional notions of what Aboriginal art is.

Sarrita King, Ancestors, Jap 010912, Acrylic on Linen, 90 x 60 cm.

Sarrita King, Water, Jap-008727, Acrylic on Linen, 230 x 140 cm.

Labels and Controversies

It has been widely discussed whether the indigenous art has been commodified by the West and the commercial art world. It has been even suggested that using terms as ‘Aboriginal art’ is intrinsically racist in terms of labeling Aboriginality as ‘other’ compared to the Western norm.  Many contemporary artists who happen to be of Aboriginal descent refuse to be categorized and labeled simply for their ethnicity. This issue has gained great publicity when in 1990s Australia’s most renowned international artist Tracey Moffatt refused to present at the exhibition exclusively Aboriginal, and more recently when acclaimed contemporary artist Richard Bell was awarded the National Aboriginal & Torre Strait Islander Art Award in 2003. It seems that it might be the time that the Western community develops a more sophisticated understanding of the diversity of artists of indigenous descent.

Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Bush Yam Dreaming, 1994, inscribed verso: #551, Synthetic Polymer Paint on Canvas, 183.0 x 122.0 cm.

Aboriginal Art in the Art Market

In 2007, the painting Earth’s Creation by Emily Kngwarreye became the first Aboriginal artwork sold for more than $ 1 million. Her use of dots reaches its crescendo in this phase, with dots merging, separating and dominating in various configurations. They fuse together to create planes of colour structured into mobile shapes, or are choreographed to form lines that suggest dance movements. In earlier works they are used to form fine veils that shield secret markings or create shimmering effects reminiscent of the cosmos. Emily’s palette was largely determined by the changing seasons. Dusty browns appear in her canvases during the dry season, and greens appear after the rains, which Emily referred to as ‘green time’. When wildflowers carpeted the desert, she used a spectrum of yellows. The visual intensity of these paintings recalls the work of French colourists Sonia and Robert Delaunay, or even Claude Monet. Yet Emily knew nothing of their work and, while these French modernists explored pure colour as form and subject, Emily’s only subject throughout her life was her ancestral home of Alhalkere. Emily’s “green-time” canvases attest to an unshakable connection between body and country, one that evades iconography yet demands to be felt.

Only a few months after, an epic work Warlugulong by Clifford Possum was sold for $ 2.4 million in Sotheby’s auction in Melbourne. After the initial boom, the market for these works started to struggle due to the issues with authenticity, ownership, exploitation and Australia’s cultural heritage regulation. On the other hand, the first ever sale of Aboriginal art at Sotheby’s London in June 2015 was a huge success showing a sign of renewed interest in this movement. When choosing a piece, the great importance should be placed on the style, medium, status of the artist and age of the artist. With five works being sold for over $100,000, the auction brought in over $ 2 million for 75 lots. As the price of the pieces is rising again, buying Aboriginal art could be a wise investment.

Thierry B Fine Art proudly offers Aboriginal art and may be viewed in our gallery stockroom. Gallery hours are: Monday – Saturday 11am – 5pm, Sunday 12pm – 5pm, or by appointment on : +613404861438.

Vicki xx

The Finkelstein Files : Sfumato Superbo

What is it that continues to resonate with me some 10 years after first clapping eyes on Alexander McKenzie’s quietly evocative mood-scapes?

Alexander McKenzie in his Cronulla, Sydney-based studio this month preparng for his upcoming exhibition at Martin Browne Contemporary.

Alexander McKenzie in his Cronulla, Sydney-based studio this month preparing for his upcoming exhibition at Martin Browne Contemporary.

photo shoot 2013-06-04 013 (800x534)

Its fairly true to say that I am a groupie. Hard-core. Let’s rewind a little, to 2007….

At 4.30pm on a weekday afternoon, I hear the squeal of the gallery stock room roll-a-door ride upwards to see the cavernous mouth of the truck as the art carriers expertly transfer the latest offering from a then young Alex McKenzie. It was a wintery Melbourne afternoon, the kind where you want to shut up shop early, dash into the nearest patisserie and fill your tummy with fleeting warmth. I sign the consignment docket and set about unwrapping, propping the large linen canvas against the long wall. As my first week as gallery manager in one of our most imminent’s commercial galleries, I was keen to make a favourable impression. 

Not five minutes had passed, after sending out an email with image attached of our new arrival, when the phone rang insistently – a keen potential buyer requesting I remain open until he could view the painting in the flesh. I agreed, and hurriedly screwed in two d-rings & wired up the work, hanging it in prime position of as much natural light as I could muster given the fading fast day. Jumping up a ladder, I threw some directional light onto the gleaming canvas. Just enough.

Minutes later, a client, who would become a friend strode purposefully through the glass entry and stood still  – staring . The deal was done. Adrenaline pumping, the painting was sold and so was my fate. Over the next 5 years, I was to sell as many as a dozen paintings to an astute collector who could see what I could see.

Alexander Mckenzie’s landscape paintings have been described as “aesthetically reminiscent of 15th century Dutch Masters – with contemporary motifs…reflecting the human journey that transpires time and place” & “cinematic in the same way that the works of painters such as Caspar David Friedrich or Eugene von Gerard speak across the centuries to a contemporary visual imagination.” His work has been part of solo and group exhibitions in Australia, Hong Kong, Scotland, Ireland and the United States and is part of corporate and private collections across the globe.

He is a seven times finalist of the Wynne Prize held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

photo shoot 2013-06-04 012 (800x534)

The son of Scottish migrants, McKenzie knew he would become a painter from the earliest years and had his own purpose-built art studio at home from the age of eleven. “I suppose art was something already in my family. My parents drew and painted. My grandparents met at art college.”

After starting out at City Art Institute, now called (COFA) University of New South Wales College of Fine Arts, he dropped out, citing that he wasn’t interested in exploring lots of other disciplines, he just wanted to get on with painting. Shortly after leaving City Art Institute he won the Brett Whiteley Scholarship to study at the Julian Ashton Art School, graduating in 1994. Between 1995-2002 he studied and traveled throughout – England, Ireland, France, Scotland and Italy.

McKenzie says he didn’t make a conscious decision to be a landscape painter, but his focus on landscape emerged over time. “The first couple of shows I did were all paintings of fish,” he laughs. “Then landscape seemed to creep in over the years and seems to have taken over.” He experimented with abstraction and other styles at art school, but gradually found an approach that was able to express his unique vision. “I have a really good grasp on what I’m doing – a really clear vision of what I want. I can almost walk into a room and see the pictures hanging. But to bring that about in a physical sense is a long and difficult process because of the way I work.”

To the Pleasure Grounds, 2013, oil on linen, 153cm x 197cmTo the Pleasure Grounds, 2013, oil on linen, 153cm x 197cm

Gardener Before Kings, 2013, oil on linen, 137cm x 197cmGardener Before Kings, 2013, oil on linen, 137cm x 197cm

McKenzie uses a traditional painting technique developed by the Dutch. “It’s a very layered process with a very prepared surface. The canvas is sized with rabbit-skin glue, which is applied hot, then there is eggwhite primer and the building up of various layers, at a very large scale. There are a series of glazes. It can take a month to pull a work together.” He chooses this labour-intensive, old-world approach ultimately because of the way it looks. “I love the patina of the painted surface.”

While he has always been very driven to paint and sure about what he wants to paint, McKenzie has struggled at times with his place in the art world. “For a long time, I thought my work was very old-fashioned because it wasn’t cool or in vogue. I always felt slightly outside the box.”

But on reflection he realised he was happy to make a place for himself beyond the vicissitudes of fashion. “Painting itself, by its very nature, is a singular, solitary existence. I never really felt comfortable sharing a studio. For me it was always about retreating into your own journey. To make art that is real and honest, it has to be true to your idea. There are a lot of artists who play the game and change their work to be fashionable. But to me that isn’t getting to the point of why we make art in the first place.”

Luckily, McKenzie is stubborn. He painted for ten or fifteen years while working at menial jobs and sometimes questioned whether it was a good idea. But the desire to make images never deserted him. Then, after being spotted in an art competition in the UK, Rebecca Hossack‘s gallery in London began showing his work, and has represented him for the past eight years. “I went from making $2000 a year to actually being able to live from my work.”

His work has been described as nostalgic or romantic, even allegorical or looking back to the Symbolist movement, but he is uncomfortable with those labels. “In a sense it is true, but it’s not a conscious choice, more a reaction to an overwhelming need, a desire that pushes me to make an image – and that’s what comes pouring out. To me, a style is not something you manufacture, it should just be what you are.” An authentic answer, from an authentic artist.

Alive Among Trees, 2013,  oil on linen 153cm x 197cmAlive Among Trees, 2013, oil on linen 153cm x 197cm

The Sweep, 2013, oil on linen, 122cm x 167cmThe Sweep, 2013, oil on linen, 122cm x 167cm

McKenzie likes to immerse himself in cool landscapes, and travels regularly to northern Europe, Tasmania, Victoria and the South Coast of NSW, but he is not a plein air painter. Verisimilitude or the representation of a specific landscape is not what interests him. “It’s really when I get back into the studio that my recollections are distilled into some kind of image. If I think about it from a magical point of view, I’m summoning those memories in my painting.”

His works conjure moods and even narratives. “The story can change from painting to painting. But I think in a way it is like what is said of novelists, that they are retelling the same story over and over again. And if we think about it deeply we’re probably telling our own story over and over again. Which is possibly all we can do.”

There are no people in McKenzie’s work, but there is often a suggestion of their presence, a trace of humanity. “I suppose what the pictures are about is some sort of struggle with the issues of the spirit, of mortality and direction. I contemplate all of those things, and the landscape is the natural place to contemplate them.”

In a Night Season, 2013, oil on linen, 122cm x 214cmIn a Night Season, 2013, oil on linen, 122cm x 214cm

While his paintings of misty valleys, stark leafless trees and brooding skies can at times seem sombre, McKenzie believes all of his images are optimistic. “If I’m working on an image of rain or a storm, it’s a clearing thing. A change is always positive, a necessary step on a spiritual journey.” Deep in thought, McKenzie explains: “I’m interested in the metaphors associated with shaping and nurturing nature, how we are shaped throughout life to become us.”

His latest show at Martin Browne Contemporary in Sydney is titled The Cairn opening  22nd August unit 15 September, 15 Hampden Street, Paddington.  The online catalogue is available here to view.

Artist Profile Issue 24, available today, contains a lyrical yet gutsy interview with the artist by Owen Craven views the works as deeply personal paintings less about place and more about the artist’s place in the world”.

I always have so much to say about Mr.McKenzie, so much so, that todays post is the first of a two part unveiling.  Big news coming this way – stay tuned.

TFF xx

The Finkelstein Files – Modern Master Eolo Paul Bottaro



‘The artwork of Eolo Paul Bottaro presents a challenge to write about. One searches for the right opening line that will get to the core of his vibrant paintings, each so unique in narrative and subject matter. But at the heart of it Bottaro’s art refuses to be summed up in a neat sound-bite, and the further one delves into its conceptual, technical and historical connections, the more swims up to the surface and demands exposition.’ Marguerite Brown, arts writer and curator, Melbourne, 2011.






‘Eolo Paul Bottaro consciously engages with history to create strikingly original images, blending the past with the present in a manner that contributes something novel to the ancient discourse of figurative art. Bottaro’s Sicilian heritage has been a strong component in his earlier work, and is perhaps responsible for the dark undercurrent that often appears. A certain tension underlines the narrative, where figures find themselves in the beautiful, but unsure surrounds of the Sicilian landscape, or Melbourne’s urban environment. Broadly speaking his works reflect universal human interests that refuse to be allocated to a single time or place.’ McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park, 2013.


‘The first and most important facet that underpins Bottaro’s practice is his representation of mythological stories played out in contemporary life…..In many ways Bottaro creates art about art – with references to historical and contemporary artworks woven into the fabric of his imagery. Sometimes the composition of an early work is re-interpreted, brought to life in a urban setting with the artist’s friends and family cast as various characters. In other paintings Bottaro appropriates an artwork in its entirety, building a narrative around its inclusion.’ Marguerite Brown.


Born in Melbourne in 1974, Eolo Paul Bottaro graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1994 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. In 1997 he began researching fresco painting, which led to a five month restoration of a church in Sicily and numerous private commissions in Melbourne. He’s been rapidly gaining critical attention and has an impressive exhibition history in private and public regional galleries. His work is held in private and public collections throughout Australia.




sophie moshakis


Its mighty refreshing to chat with an artist who vividly recalls the lack of patronage and support young emerging talent struggle to reconcile. Empathy and experience is a terse teacher of lessons learnt which strengthen character and determination to perservere and succeed against the odds.

Alex Bouras, apprentice artist assists Bottaro much like many artists employed students in centuries gone by. Bottaro proudly shows me a collaborative painting which will bear both names of the artist & his apprentice to be shown at his upcoming exhibition entitled Colour without a Name, opening Thursday 18 July 6-8pm at James Makin Gallery, 67 Cambridge St in Collingwood.

Many of the images which I have been privy to today in his studio will remain sight unseen until secured on the gallery walls for the public to admire. Alongside the sense of grandeur that Bottaro generates with his ambitious use of scale and unabashed technical prowess, there are also quiet moments, where the intimate and personal co-exist with the monumental. Combined with an imaginative quality that sometimes pushes into the surreal, this body of work is as impressive as it is engaging. If a picture speaks a thousand words these pictures can certainly talk, and will undoubtedly do so long into the future.


The Magic of Michelson

RSM-1- CollageWelcome  to the world of painter, Robin Michelson. Tucked away in a leafy, sun-drenched crescent on the south-side of Melbourne, lives a magician. And his name is Michelson. His 60’s apartment is an achingly yet unofficiously cool statement in understatement. That’s just the kind of guy he is. The kind that can take a tiny speck of dust & manifest magic. Rabbit out of hats stuff. Really? Yes, really.


RSM-2-CollageRight. Titiana gets a scooter, 2012 acrylic & ink on canvas, 184 x 122cm.

At every turn, I spy more to entertain and delight my eyes. With child-like, wide-eyed enthusiasm I flip through the stacked canvases, each offering glimpses of an insane imagination hard at work. I’m struck by the range of subject matter, style and narrative displayed at my feet. Breath-taking.



Above. Coaster, 2012 acrylic & ink on canvas, 184 x 122cm.



Above. Meet the Watercolours, 2012, Acrylic wash on canvas, 245 x 123cm.

RSM-15- Collage

Above. Man with his heart on his Sleeve , 2012, Acrylic & ink on canvas, 245 x 123cm.


Above. Walking the Dog (ode to Alice), 2012, acrylic & ink on canvas, 184 x 122cm.


Above. Untitled (Coming Home), 2012, blackboard paint, acrylic & ink on canvas, 60 x 85cm.

Oh, I so have a spot for this one! In fact, a major soft spot. What do you think? Are you on the same page as me?


RSM-10 Left. The Seven fish of the Who, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 184 x 122cm.

A home studio means part-time painter, full-time father to teenage sons, Ryan & Remy. As dad, he endeavours to constantly balance the enormous juggling act that is required when working as a professional artist, running a busy house-hold and maintaining peace & sanity at all costs. “It’s an on-going challenge, raising kids. But one that I relish & treasure in many ways. Herculean as it feels at times!” he jokes.

RSM-10-CollageAbove centre. detail. Terrazzo, 2011, acrylic & ink on canvas, 184 x 91cm.

A collector at heart, the living spaces are a cornucopia of personal history, his mothers’ treasured glassware, 80’s B&O hi-fi – all reside comfortably alongside each other. Aside from a sunny-side up person, Michelson has a much darker tone if you scratch deep enough past the markings and texture which adorn his work.

Entwined-2009-RSM Left. Entwined, 2008, oil on canvas, 120 x 180cm, Cunningham Dax Collection, University of Melbourne.

“Broken shards of light or life create a subliminal barrier,but not. The face is alienesque,a feeling of inhumanity,white from the searing cold,as is the raw upward outstretched hand,open in hope. Although the figure is oppressive,it gazes towards the light in the corner, yearning for better things,a will to survive. The Holocaust was to say en-masse,it is a representation of ones individual loss,this is a lone figure,representing the solitude of one’s inner self. entwined’ in barb wire, prison stripes imbued into the skin.” Michelson 2008.

Entwined is part of the Cunningham Dax Collection. In September 2012 it was featured as the key promotional piece in a Holocaust Exhibition at the Migration Museum-Adelaide Australia.

In 2007, Curator Juliette Hanson, in collaboration with the Jewish Holocaust Centre created a project with the intention of acquiring a body of works made by people who had experience of the Holocaust.

The emotional and psychological effects of the Holocaust continue to impact on the lives of survivors and their families. Out of the Dark : the Emotional Legacy of the Holocaust, paid homage to sadness, loss and grief. Despite the inherent darkness of the subject, strength and hope lie at the heart of each story of survival. The need to bear witness, to remember those lost and to protect against such atrocities recurring is of vital importance and testament to these needs.

Interestingly, when I first viewed the body of Michelson’s collection, I was wowed & wooed by a sure sense that what i was seeing was art d’brut in the buff. That is, for the uninitiated, unabashed, unashamed untrammelled raw emotion. The stuff that moves you.


Above. Alice in the Palace, 2012 Acrylic & ink on canvas, 122 x 184cm.

That’s versatility for you. The painting of Alice resonates just as deeply for me as the twisted image proceeding it.

Sometimes I sit quietly on work I admire and just watch. Watch and wait. Mainly to see if it has legs. If Mr.Michelson has a say in the direction he’s heading, I’d say he’s off and running.


Robin Michelson, making magic. Sometimes its clear where the canvas begins and where he ends. Here, a lesson in illusion carries the language of the art of transportation. Other-worldly, ghostly and great. What’s not to like?!

* for further information or commission enquiries please Vicki on 0404 861 438.