Robert Malherbe – Feeling is everything
Robert Malherbe’s exhibition Feeling is everything captures the artist’s surrounds, be it the soaring landscapes of the Blue Mountains, the glimpses of domesticity in the home or the quiet moments shared between artist and muse in the studio.
Malherbe is renowned for painting ‘alla prima’, a direct painting technique where a work is completed in one session by applying wet paint in layers. With a sense of urgency to capture what is immediately before him, his latest body of work celebrates the pure joy of observing and we bear witness to an artist in full command of the brush.
By using a heightened colour palette, Malherbe pushes the boundaries of the genre’s more traditional limitations. Thick, luscious strokes of bold colour breathe life into the works, the immediacy of his brush strokes rendering a breeze in the landscape or the subtle movement of his model in the studio. In Malherbe’s world even a simple arrangement of flowers in the home is transformed from traditional still life into a work that drips with movement and almost notes the passing of time.
Malherbe has a connection to each of his subjects, models are long time friends and the landscape is a lived experience looked upon by a trained eye. For Malherbe, painting is all about the act of looking and the pleasure this provides to both artist and viewer. Inspired by the great artists who have gone before him, Malherbe is an artist’s artist, instinctive and assured whilst bringing a fresh approach to the oft visited subject matter, the landscape and the human form.
“In painting, I’ve always been guided by one thing, feeling. The great paintings I admire, whether it’s by Rembrandt, Manet, Matisse or de Kooning, don’t just describe feelings; they become them. For me feeling is everything.” Robert Malherbe – 2021
Immigrating to Australia in 1971 from Mauritius, Malherbe worked as an animator before spending a decade living and travelling in Europe. In 2015 he was the winner of the Manning Art Prize and the following year was awarded the NSW Parliament Plein Air Painting Prize. Since then he has been a regular finalist in some of Australia’s most prestigious art prizes including the Archibald Prize, the Wynne Prize, the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize and the Kilgour Art Prize. His artworks are held in important public collections including NSW Parliament House, Redland Art Gallery and Blue Mountains City Art Gallery as well as numerous private collections nationally and abroad.
Image credit: Robert Malherbe, Afternoon landscape, 2021, oil on linen, 91.0 x 71.0 cm (detail)