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Geoffrey De Groen: Untitled

Geoffrey De Groen Untitled

Geoffrey De Groen, profile

The Artist

Painter, teacher and art critic, Geoffrey De Groen was born in 1938 in Brisbane. His family moved to Sydney where Geoffrey grew up, where according to an article about the artist by Paull McGillick, the environment was devoid of art.  He first began to look at art on weekend visits to the Art Gallery of NSW. Between 157 and 1965, he studied at the Julian Ashton Art School, and the National Art School where Wallace Thornton was a big influence.

In De Groen's generation, painting was a vocation. Being an artist was frowned upon because painting is a very speific discipline and the term artist seemed to suggest no discipline at all.  Helped by the sale of a clutch of paintngs de Groen left Australia in 1969 to live and work in England, France and Canada before returning to Australia in 1973. For the next decade he taught at the National Art School in Sydney and the Canberra School of Art, was a well-known art critic and published two books of interviews with artists.

The sense that he was spreading himself too thin made him devote himself to painting full-time in 1985. In fact, the seeds of this went back to a visit to Japan in 1977 and a meeting with Father Joseph Love at Sophia University in Tokyo, who told him that talking about other people’s ideas means you have none of your own. ‘That’s why I quit teaching’, he says. ‘And I talked to an artist, Nakanishi, and he said: ‘never plan the end in the beginning’.’

Leaving teaching was the beginning of a process of withdrawal which culminated in de Groen leaving Sydney altogether in 1992 and moving to Taralga, a small town 40 kilometres inland from Goulburn in NSW. Although he is by nature gregarious and loves nothing more than robust discussion of art, music and literature, his move was about leaving the noise of the art world and the city in order to be able to focus exclusively on his work.

De Groen has exhibited between 1966 and 1991 over thirty exhibitions of his work including in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, London and in Canada. His works are represented in the Art Gallery of new South Wales, Queensland Art Gallery, New England Art Gallery, and in many corporate and tertiary collections.

Untitled by Geoffrey de Groen

The Work of Art

This untitled work, I think sums De Groen's ideas on art, artists and his endless interest in 'silence, stillness and darkness. The work, which is made from synthetic polymer paint on paper, is devoid of shapes and an absence of form. A dark blue/grey background, it has a hint of light towards the lower part of the composition. The bright yellow border, I think deliberately emphasizes the sense of stillness and darkness with the colour reflecting inwardly.

Although this is the only represented work in the University of Canberra Art Collection, many of De Groen's works  demonstrate the same techniques as well as his style. It is not about specific subjects but about ways of seeing different forms. How do you feel when looking and exploring these images?

De Groen's Untitled work was acquired by the University of Canberra in 1974 - therefore an early example of his work following his return from working overseas. It is also quite an avante-guarde acquisition in the early days of the University's Art Collection.

Untitled work by Geoffrey De Groen Unititled 9 by Geoffrey De GroenUntitled 10 by Geoffrey De Groen

References

Geoffrey De Groen Exhibition, https://www.habitusliving.com/architecture/visual-feast-geoffrey-de-groen-exhibition

Paul McGillick, Geoffrey De Groen, Artist Profile, https://www.artistprofile.com.au/geoffrey-de-groen/

Alan & Susan McColloch, The Encyclopdedia of Australian Art, Allen and Unwin, Sydney 1994. p210