Chris Wise

In a Moment, 2023

114 × 94 cm
I couldn’t go past this one when choosing a piece to submit for the NEAP as this painting has become a foundation for my evolving practice. Merging spontaneous automatism with deliberate gestural abstraction, this picture feels grounded in time, subconsciously revealing an inner landscape that embodies a longing for discovery. Built on multiple layers of mark-making over several days, this became a very physical painting that resolved itself abruptly. Reviewed in hindsight, I sensed I had arrived in a moment.

For years, I have been eager to return to a more liberated form of creative expression, which began with a First-class BA Hons Fine Art Painting decades earlier. Uncoiling from a career in commercial design and art direction, my return to the brush has been life-giving. Painting feels innate, an intuitive reaction to a deep and indescribable compulsion – that allows me to interpret and articulate feelings, thoughts, observations and ideas through abstract expression.

My approach to painting merges spontaneous automatism with deliberate gestural abstraction. Through a balance of conscious intention and unconscious instinctiveness, I aim to build a connection between process, materiality and surface, which is equally impulsive and intuitive.

The paintings are built on bursts of painterly gestures often sparked by thoughts of landscapes – remembered, seen or imagined. Although looking to avoid representational content, landscapes become an inevitable reaction but remain firmly abstracted and seek to reach further than their place in my memory or experience.

Each piece is a stepping stone to the next, with the experience of making dragged between works. Although I do not set out to create a given series of works, jumping between surfaces and returning to previous artworks to input new discoveries allows the paintings to develop a visual conversation with each other. It’s vital for me not to overwhelm this process with logic and to set myself apart from the work to allow each piece to complete itself.

Returning to painting after a sizeable hiatus has been both necessary and deeply fulfilling. The time away has given the process energy, which undoubtedly comes from life experienced, urgency and the need to untangle from life’s unnecessaries and replenish with a truer reality, leading to more authentic manifestations.

In the same way I found myself in Australia, my painting practice is a wanderlust. The adventure this time comes from not knowing the destination, just a deep sense of direction and a certainty that there will be conflict and revelation along the way. Perhaps the only certainty is the act of painting – my mode of transport – becomes better at navigation, handling surfaces and materials – adapting confidently to the terrain and allowing myself to grow as a painter and a human.

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