This is the third show of Peter Godwin's I have had the pleasure of seeing. If you don't know his work, then you can't be anywhere in Sydney around artists, who seem to be all singing his praises.
Peter works in the classical medium of egg tempera, lately applying it to marine board and/or hemp, to give it an accessibility to the viewer and longevity that placing it behind glass (away from cockroaches -love that egg!) in the earlier works could not achieve. He works on a large-ish scale and has achieved a seemingly impossible blend of Primitive art, 20th Century modernist, 19th Century classical masterpiece and 21st century sensibility - a very "now" painting (the abstract sensibility is paramount, until one realises that its actually a very traditional genre of still life/dark interiors), executed in a brilliant "academic" way. This painter has studied masters like Courbet and Fragonard, internalised the best of what they have to teach, and come out the end with distilled, very individual and, dare I say it, beautiful paintings.
Peter didn't turn up at the exhibition opening, having just flown back from his first show in London, at Neville Keating McIlroy and being exhausted by the experience. But I suspect it also has to do with his personality - he is fairly shy, very committed and not a painter for the "artworld" scene. He didn't exhibit for ten years whilst he went on his own quest to study the masters and develop his own style - even when he was threatened with dismissal from the National Art School, where he taught (the NAS is an atelier school, and has a policy that teachers must be exhibiting artists to be on staff - every 18 months to 2 years). It's great to see an artist who is so committed, so unassuming, being so successful. Prices range from $5,500 for 50 x 45cm to $52,000 for 122 x 152cm, and all but one sold before the work could be hung on the walls of the irascible Campbell Robertson-Swann's gallery in Enmore. So I guess Peter doesn't need that job at NAS after all??
On till 24th October, Defiance Gallery, 47 Enmore Rd Newtown
Image: Peter Godwin, Interior with Highland War Shield, 2009 Egg Tempera on hemp on marine ply 122 x 178cm