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  • Date Wednesday 16 August
  • Time6pm
  • Registration Link

Please join us for drinks and a panel discussion with James Drinkwater, curator Terence Maloon and gallerist Ralph Hobbs to celebrate the launch of the publication of James Drinkwater: At mid-career

Early recognised as an exceptional talent, James Drinkwater has never toned-down the intensity and bravura of his approach to painting. His work has mined a vast legacy of modern art – Australian, British, American, French – as if all of it remains relevant, fresh and available to him. He has said “…I think my milieu is all my heroes from the past.”

His paintings embrace great variety and complexity. Most of them evoke figures, landscapes and interiors. Their formal make up, tonal intricacy and textural complexity relate them directly to representational paintings, while paradoxically they are also cunningly composed abstractions.

Drinkwater’s paintings seek to connect viscerally with the viewer. The physicality of the bones and sinews of the composition and the variety of colour and texture serve to attract and to hold people’s interest. In contemporary Australian painting, Drinkwater’s exuberant use of oil paint produces a very distinctive richness of substance. He weaves layers of representational elements together: figures, plants, interiors, landscape and still life emerge suggestively, always in a striking condensation of interest.

His work responds critically to intergenerational rifts and the ‘culture of forgetting’. He has said “I’m trying to make new again good old fashioned things, like a day at the beach, a ferry ride, lunch at a restaurant, those kinds of things. I’m trying to make them new and relevant again.”

Drinkwater is a denizen of Newcastle, with his emotional roots deeply attached to his home-base. Something of the atmosphere and ambience pervades his imagery. Nonetheless he has had the opportunity of discovering a much wider world through residencies in Germany, Kenya, Indonesia, and Tahiti. Drinkwater is on the brink of turning 40, a time for reflection and retrospection. This survey exhibition ranges over his prolific output during the last 20 years.

James Drinkwater: At mid-career is curated by Terence Maloon and the accompanying publication features a detailed discussion between Maloon and the artist in which they flesh out Drinkwater’s upbringing, his early interest in becoming an artist and the community of support that nurtured his talent and enthusiasm towards painting.

“The story of homecoming is an age-old tale, yet Drinkwater invites us to join him on his deeply personal journey through life, page by page.” – Nicole Hauser, Catalogue excerpt from James Drinkwater: At mid-career 2023

“The mid-century sensitivity to this aesthetic reverberates through his very being. It is one of the great dichotomies that this thoroughly contemporary man is, in essence, the sum of all the parts of the 20th century. The artist distils his experiences rather than slavishly recording a literal understanding. When he makes art, the world dissolves; nothing else exists. There’s just the process and the story he is reciting.” – Ralph Hobbs

Refreshments provided. Please register to attend.


Buy Now / $50 + $10 postage

  • TitleDrinkwater: At mid-career
  • SpecsHardcover, 25.5 x 35 cm
  • PublisherPublished 2023 by DHG Publishing, Nanda/Hobbs & Prism Editions
  • DetailsFeaturing texts from Ralph Hobbs and Nicole Hauser, and a conversation between Terence Maloon and James Drinkwater. Edition of 500 copies. Publication design: Joshua Andrews. Photography: Ben Adams, Dean Beletich.
  • ISBN9780648660958
  • Price$50 + $10 postage / Buy Now

The Drill Hall Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, the traditional custodians of the Canberra region, and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and Country.