(b 1937) Sutton, Surrey, UK
A passion for capturing the essence of the Australian landscape lies at the heart of prominent Sydney abstract reflectionist painter David Naseby’s transition from his celebrated portraiture of high profile individuals to his exploration of man’s relationship with his environment.
A multiple Archibald Prize finalist, Naseby is internationally recognized for his sensitive, painterly portraits including poet Les Murray, former PM John Gorton, writer Bob Ellis golfer Greg Norman and the painter’s close friend, cartoonist Bill Leak.
Awarded the Arthur Boyd Artist in Scholarship, Bundanon, NSW, 2002, Naseby has exhibited extensively: National Portrait Gallery Canberra, Group and Solo Exhibitions and numerous public and private collections throughout Australia, U.K. and USA, including Rupert Murdoch and Macquarie Bank.
Just as Murray eloquently acknowledges the discordance between man and the natural world nature in his poem, The Meaning of Existence, Naseby’s landscape paintings depict the complex push and pull of man’s interaction with the land.
The inspirations and oppositions discernible in Naseby’s work – an enduring love of the land, the tensions between the natural and the man-made, the determination to retain independent artistic expression – come together in a fusion of eloquent and powerful works.
“As with my portraits, I see myself as a detective, searching for the real character below the surface of the landscape” says Naseby. “I call myself an abstract reflectionist because my paintings always retain some essence of their original form, even when they are pushed to virtual abstraction”.
Naseby mixes enamel paint, cement and marble dust with traditional oil paints to achieve the fluidity that allows him to show the organic structure of the landscape. Through layer on layer of different surfaces all colliding with one another, Naseby creates harmony out of chaos.
An impromptu visit to the Murray in 2001 opened Naseby’s heart to the frailty and vulnerability of the suffering riverscape. Defiant in it’s fading dignity, the Murray River inspired the equally-defiant Naseby to capture its soul in the series, “The Defiant Landscape.”, including the evocative ‘Murray Hillside 2006’.
Struck by the ghostly, figurative forms and leached colours of the increasingly salinated landscape, he could not get the images of the river out of his mind.
“The image of those trees, twisted and tortured, haunted me for a long time,” Naseby says. “It was as if they held a strange power. Initially I didn’t realise quite what was happening to the Murray, but as I came to a better understanding, I felt more and more drawn to paint this crusty landscape as a symbol of the havoc we are wreaking on this great river.”
Naseby drew his inspiration for his latest Murray River works from a recent trip to Europe, where he was invigorated by discovering new and exciting contemporary painters whose works he had never seen before.
“What amazes me is that as the paintings evolve,” Naseby muses, “a balance between the chaos and harmony of the river is beginning to emerge. It is as if the river is fighting to regain control. Over and over, its majesty and strength, its beauty and pride, just imposes itself on the paintings.”
Naseby is currently working on his new series, "Interior Landscapes". These works will continue his powerful and ethereal visual Australian landscape narrative, beginning in Tasmania and finally taking the artist deep into the outback of NSW, in a continuing passionate love affair with the beauty and the beast that is the Australian landscape.