Seth Birchall’s paintings take us into his fascinated enquiry, his musings, his trust of ‘not knowing’ and meditative disconnect and discovery of the languages of painting.
There is a sense of transit, of softness and serenity and ‘sitting with’ communicated in his (We) Give and Receive… of wending through a conversation on ways of painting, of poesy and quiet reverie. Of personal memory and the way of an artist’s life.
The artist speaks of the “hauntings of early Modernism – Courbet, Manet, the Nabis” that filter through his contained and considered ‘near abstract’ composite landscapes.
He makes paintings that are marked by perverse perspectives of looking up to and into, of infinite space and depths of field – yet paradoxical flatness. A palm tree’s soaring aspect is intensified by his painting it over two canvases set unconventionally one above the other in his diptych, A Really Beautiful Experience. For both River Composition I and River Composition II one tree is repeated four times at different angles and the paintings can hang ‘whichever way’.
Seth Birchall’s paintings are speculations on ways of putting paint, making line, muting colour. He claims: “Working with an opera company probably taught me as much about painting as art school.”
Painting sets, he learned the value of rags as well as brushes as a painter’s tool. Although executed in oils, his paintings have a sense of dryness and see-through wash akin to watercolour. Line is a significant element for Seth Birchall with gestural lines – often dark, sometimes in complementary colours, laid over underpainting and loosely articulating forms. This use of line is sourced in both art history and an echo from calligraphy and his time in Korea.
Birchall’s artist-made customised frames are integral elements of his ‘’holistic’’ and ‘total-work-of-art’ approach to art making and also give title to the exhibition.
Originally from New Jersey in the US, Birchall found his way as an adult to Australia, settling in Sydney. He now lives and works between Bega, Byron Bay and Sydney, Australia, and Bali, Indonesia.
Birchall’s work is represented in the Joyce Nissan Collection, Melbourne; Macquarie Bank; Proclaim Collection, Melbourne; St. Vincents Hospital, Sydney and Art Incubator, Sydney, as well as private collection in Australasia, North America and Scandinavia.
For the one in pursuit of wonder…
Experience. Seth Birchall.