We catch up with talented local artist Pavel Lankas who has exhibited his work at the Glasshouse Gallery as part of the ‘Local Narratives’ exhibition.
> You recently exhibited your work at the Glasshouse Regional Gallery. What was that experience like?
It was a wonderful experience to be part of the first exhibit at the new Glasshouse Regional Gallery. Having exhibited at the Regional Gallery in its previous two venues over a number of years, this new space is amazing in comparison.
There is a feeling of space and light, with the three gallery levels providing space for a variety of exhibitions. The new gallery space enabled me to work on a larger scale, which I prefer.
> Your artwork was part of the ‘Local Narratives’ exhibition. Tell us about what was involved in the process of creating the exhibition?
The local artists participating in this group exhibition came together in a series of workshops under the guidance of the selected exhibition curator, Gillian McCracken. It was Gillian’s role to guide the artists and to come up with an umbrella theme, a structure for the group exhibition and still enable individual artists to stay true to their creative process and aesthetic.
The exhibition is about a ‘sense of place’, with a number of themes developed in the workshops, enabling artists plenty of scope for personal interpretation and creativity. With 41 participants there was always going to be a large diversity of outcomes.
For some of the artists, exhibiting at a regional and professional level was a new experience, and the workshops provided the knowledge and necessary skills to do this successfully in a large group exhibition setting.
Through the workshops we became aware of what work people were currently doing or proposing to do; however, the final individual outcomes for the exhibition remained a surprise for all of us until the opening of the exhibition.
> The theme of the exhibition was about representing the local region. How did you accomplish that in your work?
My work has always been about investigating my environment and my own nature. So it was a matter of staying honest about where I am residing now, which is Port Macquarie.
I have been investigating the ocean, on and off, for most of my life. The element of beauty and also its transient nature became the focus in these works. The local coastline with its expansive ocean and formless horizon provided inspiration, an obvious contrast to the suburbia that hungrily expands along its shoreline.
I see myself as a natural painter, someone who investigates the ‘nature of things’ and so the nature of themselves. If we know the things of nature, then we also know ourselves.
Within this energetic process there is a timelessness; there is beauty in uncertainty. True beauty is timeless, intangible; it cannot be fenced in, driven, or owned. The human conditioning, on the other hand, strives for a beauty contained, to capture, to hold, to possess, to own. Suburbia and our existence within it is a reflection of our, at times, superficial being.
The specific places or locations explored within the paintings become openings to the universal. The representation of form points to the formless. There are always linking contrasts, the relationship of all things.
My paintings are representational and recognisable, inspired by the ocean and locality, but they are also about the abstract and the intangible qualities of all forms, including ourselves. I hope the paintings inspire some to contemplate, to look and explore beyond existing boundaries and fences to come to understand true beauty and a sense of peace within all things.
> Why is it important for your art to be based here in the Port Macquarie area?
It seems the place has chosen me for the time being. The Hastings region with its natural beauty continues to inspire me, having lived in the area for 20 years, with my focus changing between the hinterland and the coast, from the expansive to the minute and back again.
However, I will find true inspiration for creativity and growth wherever I may be. Now it is the coastline of Port Macquarie where I reside, and that contributes to this process. In the future it may be elsewhere. To me it is not the place that is important; it is the attitude we bring to a place and the relationship we develop through understanding.
We have the capacity to take care of our environment or to destroy it, and by that destroy ourselves.
> What is next for you?
Anything is possible. At present I am immersed in watery elements. This will change, but I go with the flow of things. I continue the journey of teaching, painting, investigation and exploration, keep moving and not be trapped by my current ways of seeing and being. Not to stagnate is my aim.
> Thank you Pavel.
Local Narratives is on exhibition until September 27th in the Glasshouse Regional Gallery, corner Clarence and Hay Sts, Port Macquarie.
Gallery hours Tues – Fri: 10am to 5pm, Sat – Sun: 10am to 4pm. Entry is free.