David McLeod - 'Greener Pastures'
Wednesday 22 March - Saturday 15 April 2023
In a celebration of the colour green, David McLeod’s Greener Pastures explores a range of rural landscapes that are fertile and abundant in growth as well as sea scapes suggestive of contemplation and beauty. A departure from McLeod’s previous exhibition, Hinterland (2019) which examined often forgotten buildings in rural towns and their outskirts, Greener Pastures is notable for its more panoramic views of sea and landscapes. In this sense, McLeod is very much looking outward to the sea and paddock, his colour palette, refined and awash in the many shades of green and light blue, while simultaneously taking us, the viewer, into quieter moments within the rural world.
In paintings such Kernot (2022) and The Arc North (2022), McLeod portrays elements of pastoral visions in his lush portraits of rural life. The idea of pastoral has its origins as a literary term to describe poetry and literature from Virgil through Shakespeare to Australian poets such as Les Murray. In terms of painting, the Romantic idea of pastoral in the 19th century was used to celebrate nature as a place of retreat from cities and also as a place where nature was put to use by people through farming. While there are many often competing ideas of pastoral within painting as there are painters in the Australian pastoral tradition, from Joseph Lycett to Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton, what may be common to such painters is the view of nature from an urban perspective and of looking at the rural world as a place of beauty and retreat.
David McLeod grew up in Sydney and moved to Melbourne to live in the late 1970s. A habitue of cities and the urban environment, McLeod has been a committed painter for over forty years, both as a teacher and as an artist with a studio. His artistic practice often involves driving trips to the country, road trips to visit family in the western district of Victoria, Sydney and Brisbane, as well as research into the subjects of his paintings. In Fertile and Abundant, (2022) a pastoral image is evoked of paddocks, vineyards and hills rising to the rear of the landscape. The painting, with biblical connotations in its title, celebrates rural industry with impressionistic daubs of greens and yellows which appear to float across the canvas, and so suggest movement of the wind across the paddocks.
(Opening paragraphs of catalogue essay written by poet Brendan Ryan)