Timothy Cook, 'Kulama'

Image credit: Robert Owen, Afterglow – Iris set (from the Text of Light series), 1992-2017, acrylic on wall. Courtesy of the Artist and ARC ONE Gallery 2017

In Focus: The CBUS Collection of Australian Art

2 December 2017 to 28 January 2018
Gallery 4

Melbourne based artist Robert Owen will be presenting a site specific work across all of Gallery 4. Developed especially for LRG, this largescale work combines architectural intervention, sculpture, painting and an immersive use of colour, one which highlights the viewer’s emotional and physical reactions to colour, and to movement within LRG’s top floor gallery 4.

This exhibition will highlight The speechless full moon comes out now (for Akio), part of The CBUS Collection of Australia Art and contrasts it with a new site-specific largescale work.

Courtesy of the Artist and ARC ONE Gallery.

Timothy Cook, 'Kulama'

Image credit: Robert Owen, The speechless full moon comes out now (for Akio), 1987-2000, acrylic, graphite, bronze, iron, copper, aluminium & lead powders, mica, cinnabar, lapis lazuli & gold leaf, nine canvases 610 x 610 mm each, The Cbus Collection of Australian Art. © Robert Owen 2017

Robert Owen has been exhibiting as an artist for over fifty years. Moving between painting, drawing, sculpture and installation, his practice has been characterised by his mellifluous explorations into light, colour, space and material. At the core of Owen’s practice is his long engagement with colour marked by two significant events: in 1964 when the artist encountered Giotto’s Scrovegni chapel in Padua, and in 1966 when Owen witnessed an eclipse of the sun over the Peloponnese whilst living on the Greek island of Hydra. These two experiences were formative for Owens ideas on space and light and have resulted in his perennial research graphing his own phenomenology of emotional resonances and mastering the dexterity of colour.

Afterglow continues Owen’s investigations through pure forms of abstract colour.  The exhibition combines architectural surfaces, geometry and paint to create an immersive experience that aims to heighten the viewer’s emotional reactions to colour and space. For Owen, these ephemeral wall paintings are about levels of feelings and orders of sensation that pulsate from the walls like sound waves or musical nuances. He speaks lyrically about the profusion of colours and sees in terms of harmonics, pitches and chords. He talks about the shifts and movements between colours, the push and the pull of vibrations, and his intuitive instincts for combining different pigments. As three-dimensional paintings, the viewer can quite literally walk through and around the work.

Owen’s ideas of colour as a transformative experience resonates with the Buddhist principles of the awakening of inner senses. Owen wrote in 1984, ‘Art is a serious discipline like any other development of human consciousness.’  A wander through his studio in Collingwood will reveal a bookshelf laden with texts that uncover his life-long enquiry into philosophy, science, mathematics, cultural history and metaphysical experience. At the heart of his practice is the mantra, “everything flows and everything is linked”.

It is through these histories and connections that Owen’s practice continues to amplify. Following a carefully constructed and choreographed rhythm of arrangement, Afterglow employs the same geometric constructions of his Iris series with each of the inner wall paintings divided into five parts. At the centre of each composition is a large square of colour, which acts as a portal, or a spiritual threshold, as Owen calls it.  Yet, despite their abstract appearance, Owen’s work evokes his own memories of landscape: shimmering and pulsating pigments evoking the golden rays of Greek sunrises and the pale blues reminiscent of the inland skies of Wagga Wagga. He invites viewers to make their own associations, with each wall and passage an open-encounter that remains in constant flux.