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PAUL MEEHAN

The MELBOURNE SKETCHBOOK


Meehan's many study tours to Italy brought about a realisation of the need to adopt a more disciplined approach to his craft as an artist and painter -- the need to expand his existing knowledge on the human body, and specifically the effect of light and shadow on the multitude of forms in which the body can be interpreted.

His years in Italy allowed a concentrated study of art and sculpture, incorporating Etruscan, Medieval, Renaissance and Modern Art. Here he embarked on a body of work, using photographic reference and many sketches produced on location. This ten years of study included the techniques of Renaissance sculptors such as Bernini, Michaelangelo (the Medici tombs), Da Vinci and Canova (his critical observation of the Night, Day, Dawn and Twilight sculpture collection from the Medici Chapel) and painterly techniques such as chiaroscuro and sfumato.

From there, Meehan's attention turned to Rodin. He was fascinated by the way Rodin composed his sculpture, juxtaposing multiple poses -- seemingly impossible to execute in reality, but appearing as if they had been captured in a split second through the shutter of a camera lens. This study on the impressionistic view of the human figure changed the way Meehan painted at that time. With this shift from the classical composure of the body, he turned his focus to the monumental figures of Henry Moore. Meehan's painting of Moore's "Mother and Child" led to a return to the Italian aesthetic and piqued an interest in Icon painting. He returned to the drawings and ideas of Bernini (Baroque), Alberto Giacometti (life-size figures in open landscapes), Marino Marini (Italy's past symbolized as simple Etruscan and Medieval figures), and to works of contemporary artists such as Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne (1960s French, figures in open landscapes).

Meehan has also explored these same modalities within Eastern sculpture and painting during his trips to India, China, Japan and Indonesia, in figures of stone, timber and bronze, within a religious and historic (narrative) context.

Meehan's ongoing studies include pen and ink drawings influenced by the sketches of Freud, Miro and Giacometti. A large part of this work comprises portraits painted on location and in the studio. Paul completed a study tour to Sicily in 2011 with a sketch book of over 100 pen and ink drawings on paper, which culminated in a successful exhibition in Melbourne.

The Melbourne Sketchbook follows this Exhibition of Sicilian drawings. For the past five years, Meehan has been exploring the world closer to his home, Melbourne. Using his fountain pen and paper to record the rich history of the city, from the classic buildings of Spring Street, to the stone and bronze statues of the early explorers and the sombre images of the Shrine. Sometimes the artist can be found waiting for the bare trees of winter to reveal the architecture behind them; sitting still in a fast moving contemporary city, looking deep into the details of a city we all pass every day.

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