14. TIM STORRIER
Tim Storrier works in a grand romantic tradition, against the flow of his artistic contemporaries. The individuality and consistency of his voice has established him as a major figure in Australian art. We see immediately the towering influence of the British Romantic painter, JMW Turner (1775-1851),1 in Storrier’s Summer Evening.2 Here is the division of the canvas so that the sky occupies the top two thirds; here is the magnificent sky, and here too is the extraordinary skill with paint so that the artist’s hand is barely present, other than in the hieroglyph like signature in the lower right. It is abundantly clear that what is important to the artist is the image, not evidence of its maker or his process.
What makes Summer Evening inescapably Storrier are the burning embers of timber front and centre of the composition. Storrier’s obsession with painting fire, and specifically fire located in arid landscapes, is what makes his painting arresting, and relatable. Fire is primal. Our relationship to it is ambiguous. It is a source of life and a source of death. Fire is endlessly fascinating. Storrier refers to it as ‘neolithic TV’.3 Storrier has painted fire for more than forty years, perfecting its allure and incandescence, and always using it to draw our attention to something more than the obvious: we are always at the behest of powers greater than our own. Everything we have can be taken from us, but great beauty exists even in conflagration.
Being in the presence of a painting by Storrier that deals in this subject matter is to revisit these feelings within ourselves. Unsettling perhaps, but enjoyable in a lofty way. And the consolation for this is exquisite beauty, and the recognition that even if we feel alone, we are, actually, all in this together:
These things are more about prayers or hymns than about making a statement. Trying to breathe the information with affection. It is not about a lament at all. We have all seen a chair lying beside a road, we have all seen headlights on the horizon.4
1. Klepac, L., Tim Storrier, The Beagle Press, Sydney, 2018, p.38
2. Macdonald, J., Tim Storrier: Dust and Ashes [exhib. cat.], Sherman Galleries, Sydney, 2003, p.3
3. Tim Storrier, quoted in Klepac, L., Tim Storrier, p.120
4. Ibid., p.45
Corinna Cullen, MA (Art History and Curatorial Studies)