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Neil Tomkins


Rising Dark


August 3 – August 31


Tomkins is an action painter operating in an echo chamber of his own experiences, the work is imbued with a dynamic sense of mark balanced by the focus of ritual.  

Following his 2016 exhibition of South American landscapes, Tomkins has now turned his sights and his brush inland with a series of travel paintings of central Australia. Focusing on the dramatic dusks and dawns of the desert, the works in this show are divided into three parts, the first having been painted in Sydney with the help of images and imagination, the second painted plein air during the trip, and the third back in the studio upon return. The Paintings explore cultural identity and how the abstract idea of this quintessential part of our country clashes and overlaps with the physical experience of being there.

Having painted much of the work before making the trip to the desert creates a duality in this body, one that sometimes splits a work in two, as in Split Scene or Sky Opening. It highlights the difference the few hours between dusk and dawn make in a landscape and can be seen as an embodiment of the process involved in creating the show.

The evolution of Rising Dark occasionally shows in the chronology of the works, though many of the earlier paintings were later altered with the impressions Tomkins brought back from the desert. Now(here) I and II, both painted in the artist’s Sydney Studio before the trip (though fittingly titled after his return), identify a naïve view of Australia’s Red Centre “based on preconception and experience”. In Tomkins’ words, “this body of work is an exploration of time and space.” How physical presence informs and evolves the idea of space while time alters the place itself.

The paintings in this exhibition showcase Tomkins’ trademark brushstroke, his unique perspective, and his ability to find the line where realism and imagination meet, often quite literally.


Earlier Event: June 16
Painter's Painters
Later Event: August 31
Tom Ferson