Paul Uhlmann // Land of Smoke
Paintings of place, embodiment and impermanence from one of Australia's finest painters.
The images are elusive, but express themselves through space, light, birds, atmosphere, clouds, smoke and sting rays. The intention is to reveal the power of seeing something for the first time. Inspiration is drawn from a painterly concept and process employed by the artist Leonardo da Vinci known as sfumato – derived from the Italian word ‘fumo’ meaning smoke. Images are conjured through thin glazed layers, have no borders or precise definition, rather they appear obscured and airy.
Such an approach recognises that vision is imperfect; we struggle to see what is before us. Part of the aim of the exhibition is to position how such difficulties in perception continue to frame the way Australia is understood, or at times misunderstood. When James Cook first encountered this Great Southern Land, he described it as a ‘continent of smoke’. Such a perceptive image is enduring but changes meaning through time.
Paul Uhlmann's work has been admired over three decades and has been acquired by the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Australian National Library, Australian National University, The University of Western Australia, Monash University, Artbank and Wesfarmers.
Read the review of Paul's exhibition by Ted Snell in Artist Profile: