Charlie Sheard Paintings and Watercolours
Aition 5 [ποικιλοφρον αθανατ Αφροδιτα] 2006-13, acrylic on raw linen, 198 x 214 cm
Collection of Judy Harris
Born in Sydney in 1960, Charlie Sheard is, by his own admission, a late bloomer. Exhibiting for thirty-five years, Sheard has held approximately fifty solo exhibitions in Australia, Europe, the USA and China. An exhibition held in 2014 at the University of Newcastle Gallery signaled that his paintings had come to fruition at last, attesting to the coming of age of a virtuosic and intrepidly lyrical artist.
The Drill Hall Gallery survey exhibition is curated by Terence Maloon. “I’ve watched Charlie’s development over a very long time, but nothing prepared me for the revelation of these new paintings of his. They are idiosyncratic but almost classical in their poise and economy. There is a sense of weirdness and of the uncanny about them that reminds me of the atmosphere of surrealist paintings or of science fiction or photographs of alien planets taken from orbiting satellites. On the other hand there is a fun, upbeat side that smacks of cartoon gaudiness and Fantasia-type colour-music. It’s definitely an unholy mix of things that keeps you off balance and absolutely alert. One thing is certain however, and that is that the handling of these weird and unwieldy situations is no less than masterful. These are extraordinary technical and conceptual tours de force.”
How does the artist explain the evolution of his works into this uncharted, fantastical territory? He vindicates the way of error, the strategic importance of respecting his own blunders:
“Ten or fifteen years ago, I realised that you can’t make a mistake. Whatever happens in a painting – the things that are most messy, awkward, strange, difficult – they’re the things that you couldn’t preconceive. They’re the things that you’re not able to imagine on your own, the really interesting things. They are the creative moment.
The creative moment is one that you didn’t plan. Once I stopped getting upset, thinking I’d spoilt the painting, I realised that the whole point of the exercise is these strange things you can’t foresee. Then I started to build a practice around how to bring those strange things into the painting rather than always trying to control it and keep them out.”– Charlie Sheard 2016