Neil Frazer – Artist

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Translating paint into experience is a speciality for Frazer – an artist who captures the energy of the natural world in his creations

You were born in Canberra, but where did you complete your studies (formal or informal) or gain most of your artistic experience?

I was born in Canberra, and although raised in NZ, I have spent about half my life in Australia. I still spend quite a bit of time in NZ and have family there – I guess I am drawn to aspects of both countries, but make Australia my home.

I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Canterbury University in 1985, and completed Post Grad work at the New York Studio School in 1986 and a Master of Fine Arts at Cofa (College of Fine Arts) Sydney in 2004.

Describe your preferred media/medium to work with … why do you have a preference for these?

These days I paint in acrylic on canvas. I love its versatility, dry up time and the fact that you can buy it by the 10 litre bucket.

Your work – particularly your seascapes – truly capture a sense of movement. What techniques do you use to create these images – and do you paint from photographs or memory?

I use a combination of different references, firstly the real experience, often recorded in photographs.

Like most other genuinely expressive painters, the manner of paint application tells as much about the artist as the picture. I try to juxtapose the thick textured and layered surfaces with the plain white areas that create a deeply recessed space into which the eye might float. I’m a very physical guy; the actual painting for me is the best bit, and I would hope in some way that the physicality of the picture could perhaps mirror the energy evident in the natural world – translating paint into experience. I love that quality when I see it in other paintings.

What types of work will you be showcasing in your exhibition at the Glasshouse in Port Macquarie?

These are all seascapes, mostly from the NSW coast, as seen from the water.

I am most attracted to landscapes that demonstrate the action of time and natural forces (waves, snow, weather, glaciation) leading to sedimentation, erosion. The passage of time is demonstrated within the shape and physical detail of the landscape and often bears witness to the violence and upheaval that has caused its formation.

I have travelled to many remote locations (including the Antarctic and many coastal Australian and New Zealand areas, as well as desert and mountains) and I often swim using a waterproof camera to record the details. I also kayak, walk or climb, and this physical experience of places and their smell and temperature help me connect the act of painting back to the place. I am also often able to experience an overview of the land using a small plane or helicopter and will search geological and geographical references to add information.

Generally, the main viewing point I adopt for the picture is one that suggests that the viewer is low down and hence dwarfed by the scale of surrounding nature.

If people are interested in viewing your work, where’s the best place to go? 

In Sydney at Martin Browne Contemporary Gallery, 15 Hampden St, Paddington NSW, or Philip Bacon Galleries, 2 Arthur St, Fortitude Valley QLD.

Thanks Frazer. Interview by Jo Atkins.

This article can be found in issue 87 of Greater Port Macquarie Focus

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