I admit I have been a fan of this artist since his first exhibition with King St in 2005. In this exhibition, his third with King St and first since moving to the small south coast town of Bulli in NSW, the artist has combined his signature still lifes with vistas seen from his new abode. These landscapes crash in on the interiors, are painted as if meeting the objects in the room, creating shifts of space and perspective across the picture plane that lift the subject matter - the every day clatter of domesticity in a busy family - to a far more intriguing level. Bokor can really paint. He uses wet on wet techniques, scratching, rag removal, thin on thick passages and vice versa, among others. His style is obviously influenced by Elisabeth Cummings, a teacher of his, but he has managed to extract a darker, claustrophobic atmosphere in his work, whereas Elisabeth's are always so full of light and expansive space. He achieves this partly through his choice of colours - usually dark and broody - browns, greys, blues, purples, greens - and partly through the irregular edges of items butting and pushing against each other. His mapping or patterning of the picture plane with variously sized rectangles across the surface adds another dimension - an almost second surface to the painting.
My only criticisms of the work relate to colour (being a colourist myself) and the close association of a student's work with his teacher's (ie I question the individual voice - but he's young (37) and there's time to further develop). I am not sure that Bokor is in control of his colour - some of the paintings juxtapose hues which truly clash - and not as a method to enhance the atmosphere (at least as far as I can see). However, when his colour choices work (and that is in at least two thirds of the paintings) these paintings are very satisfying and show a deft hand.
What I most love about this exhibition is that it shows the hands and the thoughts of a true painter. I am getting so sick of seeing slick, finished-within-an-inch-of-its-life, paintings which follow photographs closely (and add nothing: no atmosphere, no thought etc) or are fully thought out on a computer first and then "copied" into paint. The "I don't have to look at the painting to wonder about it, it's just furniture" type of work.
So - go look at the show - it's well worth the visit. Till June 25
Image: John Bokor, Coffee Table, 2009 , Oil on Board.