Exhibition review: Transpires, Brett Colquhoun

Expansive paintings that provoke wonder and contemplation of time.

Brett Colquhoun has an exhibition history dating back to 1982 and in Transpires he produced innovative landscape paintings which provoke meditations on presence, time, and memory. 

The exhibition combines two suites of painting which depict the Albury Botanical Gardens in New South Wales as well as a series of composite figures based on different apprehensions of astronomy, to give the effect of a portrait of stars as seen from space. Notably, in three particular paintings, Colquhoun combines and juxtaposes garden and sky. 

The work Impending (Monument), as well as situating the viewer in time and space, also opens up to suggestions of parallel universes.

The Albury Botanical Gardens have personal significance to Colquhuon, and in rendering the greenery, the artist pays tribute to David Hockney who pushed his use of greens and blues to iconic status.

The presence, on various occasions, of lenses and wires throughout the botanical gardens painting alludes to the constructed nature of the image, as well as situating the viewer in the subjective nature of looking. This is where the theme of ‘presence’ plays out for the viewer, who might recall their own places of significance in turn. 

In Colquhoun’s interpretative space images, the lens almost appears to punctuate the viewer’s act of looking at something incomprehensible to the naked eye. In particular, in a painting like Telescope (Nebula) the unexpected presence of a warm red, as well as the yellow with a hint of orange and green in Telescope (Andromeda), brings a human scale to images that speak of the cold and seemingly incalculable distances of space. 

Read: Exhibition review: Spirit of the Landscape

Colquhoun has exhibited in many galleries, including in the Australian Institutional Art Projects, Gertrude Street and Pinacotheca. He was a finalist for the Sunshine Coast Art Prize at the Caloundra Regional Gallery in 2021 and was featured at the Ian Potter Museum of Art as well as the Heide Museum of Art.

His latest survey at Sutton Gallery promises to illuminate the world within as well as the one that surrounds us. 

Transpires, Brett Colquhoun
Sutton Gallery, Melbourne

Transpires will be on display until 8 October 2022.

Vanessa Francesca is a writer who has worked in independent theatre. Her work has appeared in The Age, The Australian and Meanjin