The Finkelstein Files: A Few of My Favourite Things!!!

In the last post for the year, 2017 has been a rollercoaster ride for many.

I for one, am looking forward to a complete summer break with my favourite little peeps, my twin 8 year old’s.

 It’s all about having fun and being in the moment, taking our time, and few plans except soaking up the much-needed sunshine and feeling the sand between our toes in between bouts of body surfing.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Thierry B Fine Art‘s valued clientele for their ongoing support throughout 2017.

We’d also like to thank our behind-the scenes-colleagues who logistically make it all possible to keep up the pace, as one of Australia’s busiest commercial art galleries.

Here are a few of my favourite things below!!!


As we countdown the last 6 days until we close the gallery for our break, our gallery hours include Monday – Saturday 11am – 5pm & Sunday 12pm – 5pm or by appointment. Re-opening the 15th January, if you are in town come by and check out our new stockroom full of beautiful paintings.

Have a happy holiday with your loved ones of near and far, and return next year in good health, ready for an even bigger and better 2018!!

Lots of love, Thierry & Vicki


The Finkelstein Files: The Art of Michelle Breton

Caravonesque,  Mixed Media on Italian Canvas, 183 x 183cm.

Michelle Breton’s ouevre relates to deep inward feelings rather than appealing to the intellect –  a visceral expression of motifs. Organic is form and matter, the works are resolved instinctively and intuitively. Filled with movement and chaos and control, Breton is a master of the abstract landscape.
“There comes a point in the painting when it reveals itself to me, and it’s at that moment I seem to know what it wants to be and what I need to do. Before that I’m it’s slave, making marks, throwing paint and even sometimes  eliminating everything,then taking stock of what has occurred and launching back in to it, allowing anything to happen. This process can take days, weeks or even months. We work together then it releases, I let go and voila! It’s a relationship that can be tumultuous at times, but it’s a dance that I never tire of, it is my joy and I couldn’t live without it, it’s my passion and my love.”
Thierry B has a strong relationship with artist Michelle Breton, showcasing her paintings for the past decade, both in High St, Prahran and now in the new purpose-built space at 473 Malvern Rd, South Yarra. We have just received a new collection of canvases into the stockroom which are available to view.


Apres Midi D’uns Founa, Mixed Media on Italian Canvas, 152 x 137cm.


Eclipse Telegraph 23, Mixed Media on Italian Canvas, 183 x 152cm.


Octobre A Ceret, Mixed Media on Italian Canvas, 152 x 137cm.


Presque Perdu, Mixed Media on Italian Canvas, 183 x 152cm.


Coming Home, Mixed Media on Italian Canvas, 91 x 91cm.

Chant Du Midi, Mixed Media on Italian Canvas, 152 x 137cm.


The paintings are currently available at Thierry B Fine Art, 473 Malvern Rd, South Yarra.

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

Thierry B: 0413 675 466 or Vicki: 0404 861 438.


Vicki xx


The Finkelstein Files: The Sublime Ms.Shaw

Artist Kate Shaw has an enduring fascination with interplanetary colonisation and what it might mean. Through a series of vibrant, psychedelic landscapes, she suggests these yearnings are a complicated combination of hope for new beginnings and a sense of hopelessness about a planet we seem certain we’ll lose.


“My practice re-interprets notions of what constitutes landscape painting, both within an art historical context and a contemporary social context. The paintings deal with the tensions and dichotomies in both the depiction of the natural world and our relationship with it. I am currently exploring the sublime in nature whilst imbuing a sense of toxicity and artificiality in this depiction. The intention is to reflect upon the contradiction between our inherent connection to the natural world and continual distancing from it. My paintings aim to convey ideas of nature, alchemy and creation by operating on one level as a landscape another as abstraction.”


In Kate Shaw’s work what we see, and what in fact are facing, are two distinctly different things. A viewer may immediately recognise a glacier, an alpine ridge, a snow-capped mountain, but we are equally witnessing a montage of abstract chemical reactions.

In a Rorsach test a patient is gently encouraged to make sense out of abstractions, to see a rabbit in a black and white ink-blot. In experimental pursuits in the 1960s patients were administered a healthy dose of LSD to respond to these monochromatic abstractions. It’s not hard to imagine the poten- tial hallucinogenic blast of such a process. The Surrealists were also enamoured of such shifting notions of reality, utilising their technique of ‘de- calcomania’ in order to find subconscious form in abstract materials.


Shaw’s work has a similar interaction with the viewer, the patterns we recognise through her deft manipulation of coloured chemicals leads us into a world we immediately recognise, even if that world is pure fantasy.

This realm of signs becoming synonymous with what may be dubbed the ‘real world’ was best ar- ticulated by Roland Barthes in his exploration of semiotics. Signs and perception become blurred, the same way a swoosh on a sneaker now clearly reads as the word Nike. In Shaw’s work the notion of ‘landscape as product’, as an inevitably read sign amidst abstraction, blurs reality.


What makes adroit patrons think Kate Shaw’s works are worth acquiring? That’s in the eye of each beholder, but I’m enthused because her paintings, and now videos, signify the spirit of the emerging Earth observations (EO) movement, where space imaging and sensing technologies are ubiquitously deployed to monitor and manage environments. (The goal of climate scientists is to build a global ‘autopiloting’ system to answer Buckminster Fuller’s 1968 call for ‘an operating manual for Spaceship Earth’.)


See Kate’s AUSiMED art work here

august 2015

The Finkelstein Files: Beyond The Woods

If trees are carriers of symbolic possibilities, the exhibition Beyond the Trees is a powerful and poetic response to our emotive connections to our planet. Climate change, the environment and the preservation of diversity are ‘hot’ topics. The life sustaining essence of trees is explored deftly by Victor Majzner who eschews these living monuments ideals of endurance and longevity. Often emblematic of patience and wisdom, dozens of canvases stand like proud sentinels along the gallery walls of the light-drenched Langford 120 in North Melbourne.

vic-Looking into myself, after Felix N 2013 Acrylic on canvas 92 x 92 cm

Beyond the Woods sign-posts a sharp twist in the tale of this image-maker of ideas of the Divine. An innate colourist, Majzner’s narratives intrigue and are full of pathos. Screams at the world mingle with recurring  faces reiterating a human helplessness –  a search for salvation? Many questions are raised without resolution as the trees sit expectantly, quietly on the walls – contemplating and confronting. Looking Into Myself, after Felix N, 2013, Acrylic on canvas, 92 x 92 cm (above).


vic-Portal to memory, after Ezra K 2013 Acrylic on canvas 92 x 92 cm

Portal to Memory, After Ezra K, 2013, 92 x 92cm (above), reflects two strong entertwined trees in a puddle of water – brothers who are emotionally connected or lovers? The connection is powerful and strong, a reflection as a symbolic portal to a memory from the past. A thought bubble hovers offering comfort, that these two souls are still looking after each other.

Vic-2 Vic-1

Much of Majzners’ writings on his work are encapsulated in an insanely beautiful box-set featuring a complete catalogue of works and an additional visual diary filled with studio insights and authored offerings on his mid-career trajectory. Designed by the artist’s equally talented son, Andrew of Paper, Stone, Scissors fame, its clear the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!


vic-Strange fruit 2013 Acrylic on canvas 92 x 92 cm

The above image lends its’ title from one of the most moving of Billie Holiday’s songs, Strange Fruit.  The gigantic tree, a universe of life has from time to time become the conduit for violence, racism and death. Sanctified by manmade laws and attitudes of power where the humanity of ‘the other’ has been degraded to a possession, only to be disposed of at the racist whim of the plantation master of the KKK gang in the American South up to the 60’s.


vic-Sky_night tree, after Alex S 2012 Acrylic on canvas 152 x 137 cm

Victor explains that Alex Skovron’s poem The Sky Tree was the starting inspiration for this painting, “Memories of fairy tales from my childhood, of dark forests where miraculous adventures took place were other inspirational sources. Out of darkness /’nothing’/chaos energy swarms into a vortex that eventually forms into branches of a tree, like lightening rods of light coming down to ‘earth’ with lights at each braces’ extremity, illuminating / suggesting a spiritual dimension as its source. Through the branches, at night can be seen small villages with their distinguished church spires. These villages are separated by dark forests and by meandering country roads and lanes illuminated by ‘golden’ lights – magic pervades.”



The roots of tradition and story-telling are embedded firmly into Majzner’s earth and the longer you spend gazing around the collection, the tighter the grip becomes. As he shows me around ‘the cage’ studio (above) – two days after a first viewing, these images resonate still, in my minds’ eye. Each with a story to tell and a potential lesson to unfurl.


The Finkelstein Files: Where The Infinite Dwells


When you have this dapper man greeting you at the door for a preview for national exhibition about to unfurl, you just know you are in for a ride of a night! Mo, is painter Kate Elsey’s partner in the truest sense of the word.

Accompanying Elsey on most of her artiness trips made for plein air studies of the Australian bush which are emblazon the walls in Melbourne’s No Vacancy concrete vault are a perfect foil for her work.


Banksia Mountain reveals a monolithic tribute to Mother nature in all her fickle fecundity. Flora and fauna vie for position with scraped back, paint-laden palette knifed canvases. The effect of is dizzying and deifying in person. (Please pardon my iPhone snaps, but this event was way too cool for my DSLR).


Continents blistering from fire and deluged by storm, the isolation and sheer scale of the works convey biodiversity, with delicate and unusual flowers attached to unbelievable, gnarly, weathered forms and creatures.

The Stirling Ranges are home to Banksia Mountain, in the south-west of Australia where the magnitude and diversity of species makes it one of the most important, fragile and formidable places on earth.


Where the Infinite Dwells, is an apt name for the above work, which blankets the wall effortlessly. The scale of the works are a challenge to be surmounted by the feisty Elsey, who is no stranger to employing courage and tenacity to her canvases.

Lucky to be treated to an entire space dotted with Elsey’s – the works leave today to go West for a solo exhibition with successful gallery, Linton & Kay, based in St.Georges Terrace in Perth. proud patrons and long-standing clients pepper the audience in a show of appreciation for her maturation as an artist who is fast approaching a new pinnacle.



As they say, the early bird catches the worm! For sales enquiries contact

TFF xx

august 2015

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 at sea with Graeme Altmann


Well hello Mr. Altmann! It always feels like I am visiting an old mate, when Graeme and I hang out together – that’s just the kind of genial guy he is. The Highett based Arthouse Studio is home to a swag of mid-career artists all busily beavering away. The 1950’s Madmen-esque brick building affords this compendium of painters, sculptors and textile artists a place to lodge ideas, check in, share coffee and conversation – whilst maintaining privacy.

GA-2His latest foray into boat-based miniatures from found objects hark back to nostalgic boyhood times of tinkering and creating something out of seemingly nothing. A few months back, Altmann exhibited his latest collection at Lorne’s QDOS gallery and relaxed grounds with his old mate, Graeme Wilkie. Sculptures all sold, Altmann likes the idea that the new owners will place their boats in a pride of place, perhaps a family heirloom to pass down to the next generation.


A cornucopia of collectibles, the suudio has the most superb natural light blasting through its’ multi-paned glass windows, on a clear day offering sea views. It looks similar to last time I visited, yet as Altmann pulls out canvases of many sizes, I can see he is as busy as ever.










altmann-5-CollageAltmann’s images are often suffused with maritime and coastal themes, wild and uncensored in their raw power. The nephew of a seafarer, he once told me the tale as a young lad, he eagerly awaited the return of his beloved uncle  upon the jetty on a blustery day – to discover that he had drowned and wouldn’t ever be returning home.


The motif of a a levitating boat body, almost coffin-like in its sombreness, continues to bob hopefully in search of the end of its voyage – still seeking completion. Sometimes a lone figure is seen juxtaposed against the shadowy outline of a dog, a symbol of unerring fidelity and loyalty.

“The floating boat captures the sense of being caught between two worlds; where we are, and we feel we should be. This distance from our desires can be a good thing as it forces us to look inward and reflect upon what it is we are seeking and what makes us fulfilled.” Graeme Altmann.


 For all enquiries regarding artwork by artist, please contact Vicki on: 61+404861438.