Environmental dealmaker is now negotiating with the nude in a Sydney life drawing studio.
Prior to Paul’s art career, the spectacular coastlines north and south of Sydney were under threat from avaricious urban development. Paul, a specialist in land acquisition, was asked by government to lead a team of valuers and negotiators to assess hundreds of key sites, treat with the owners and bring the land into the public domain. Eventually, thousands of hectares of pristine beachfront forests, headlands and lakes were acquired, to be held forever in National Parks.
A nature lover and bushwalker, Paul often returns to some of these beauty spots to pitch his tent under a eucalyptus tree amongst the friendly parrots and grey kangaroos, feeling grateful for having been part of such an enterprise of rescue.
Nowadays, the artist can often be found in a life drawing studio in gritty downtown Sydney, passionately seeking out new ways to see the model, in search of that special image beyond the real.
In 2001, Paul yielded to the inner demon and left his land consultancy practice to devote his full attention to art studies and painting. After a period of moderate success selling his pastel works of the nude, he enrolled at the Workshop Arts Centre taking classes with his future close friend and mentor, Tony Tozer, to study contemporary drawing and painting. He was quickly disabused of all he’d learned, instead being made to adopt an intuitive approach whereby the figure is subordinate to mark making and the play of materials. Tony’s art teaching methods reminded him of a Zen master’s attempts to encourage intuition in the student by breaking the grip of perceived rationality.
“Notwithstanding social taboos, we can’t help looking at other people’s bodies. For an artist, the human figure is a dream, being highly evocative and capable of countless poses and positions. My present goal is to cause the viewer to see the figure in a new and exciting way. To this end, I am fusing my experiences with Abstract Expressionism and life drawing, to create my own unique style of figurative art.
“I begin a painting by carefully studying the model’s pose. I then work quickly with my favourite materials, a charcoal pencil, old brushes, scraper and acrylics. I take several sketches home and work them up into paintings, using a lot of artistic licence, sometimes working on six or eight at once. I always seem to be dealing with absurdity and gravitas. Can they coexist? Essential factors are spontaneity, urgency and the unpredictable. At times I have to make decisions on how to create more excitement. A reclining pose may become a diagonal or a figure looks too real and needs distortion. When my work is going well I am excited at the prospect of something crazy and beautiful happening.
“It is sobering to be following the same path in figurative art as the masters Picasso, de Kooning and Dubuffet, who must have faced the same problems in their work as I do. When people see my paintings I would like them to gain a novel insight into the human form and to sense the intense joy I felt in creating them.”
Having married a Chilean, Paul is no stranger to South America which he loves to visit. His favourite world capitals for art museums are Madrid, Barcelona, Paris and New York. Living near Balmoral Beach, his day begins with a bushwalk around the headlands and a swim in the Harbour, followed by a coffee with friends.
Paul is a multi award winner and exhibits his work regularly in Sydney commercial and public galleries.