Project Description

Wayne Viney studied graphic design at Swinburne College graduating with a diploma in Art and Design in 1971. He became a full time artist in the mid-1980s and was a member of Roar 2 studios from 1995 until 2000.

He is best known for his moody twilight studies, drawing upon the painterly potential of monotypes to rework the Romantic tradition. His early works are grounded in physical sites such as the Strathbogie Ranges near Yea, moving to his signature brooding landscapes of the pastoral ideal, to colour band abstractions, and recent studies of sea and sky. All Viney’s images are imbued with a melancholic yearning for the sublime.

In 2013-14 a retrospective exhibition of his monotypes Singular Impressions, illustrated with a full colour catalogue, toured various regional galleries in Victoria.

To date Viney has held 18 solo exhibitions, and been involved in many group exhibitions. He has been a finalist in numerous art awards, including the Geelong Print Award, the Rick Amor Print Award, Swan Hill Print Award, Banyule Works on Paper Award, Fremantle Print Award, Mornington Works on Paper Award and the John Leslie Art Prize.

His work is held in numerous public and private collections including the National Gallery of Australia; Parliament House, Canberra; Geelong Regional Gallery; Ballarat Art Gallery; Castlemaine Regional Gallery; Hamilton Art Gallery; Gippsland Art Gallery, Sale; Swan Hill Regional Gallery; Orange Regional Gallery and Charles Sturt University, NSW.

“It is the difference between the raw, white and direct light of a midday sun beating down on all things equally, and the horizontal light of evening, firing the strange clouds with reflections …”

– Théophile Gautier

The north-eastern landscape of Victoria around Kerang first attracted Wayne Viney in 2005 and over the ensuing decade he made further journeys and many drawings of this vast, flat country.

Large freshwater lakes and interconnecting irrigation channels form a capillary-like grid that feeds an important farming belt, but it was the immense and ever-changing skies, which throw reflections upon the lakes’ edges and the canals, doubling, mirroring and creating a visual register of rhythmic abstraction, that makes this Lake Charm area perfect territory for Viney’s aesthetics.

After a decade of controlled colouristic minimalism, Viney, who is recognised as one of Australia’s most accomplished printmakers, takes his signature medium the monotype and returns to his painterly, gestural fluency in order to capture the unique spatiality of this dry land.

The linearism, whether diagonals or a long horizon line or a road is compressed into the lower third of the composition, while the rest of the picture is offset by great turbulent skies or billowing clouds. The dramatic contrast between earth and sky is amplified by an acute sense of isolation and powerfully connects the vital forces of nature, the mere human element being incidental.

Exotic clumps of palm trees animate the tree-lines along the banks of the canals, and though seemingly picturesque, are suggestive of the migrational and multicultural history of these inland regions.

The trees and the man-made canals attest to possession of the land and how colonial settlement changed the area from a normally arid landscape to a large farming and agricultural food bowl. But Viney’s art is not about historical narrative;; rather he is an artist who exalts in the beauty of landscapes and who immerses himself in its pictorial, impressionist representation. His rapid brushwork and handling of the ink, the immediacy of mark-making and the accidental or unexpected way the ink bleeds are for him cathartic and emotionally liberating. It is not difficult to respond to this sense of exhilaration and, indeed, these monotypes reconfirm Viney as a romantic printmaker.

With a simplified palette of blacks and whites — a conscious choice by Viney — these prints pay homage to the power and complexity of chiaroscuro, a method that offers a three-dimensional effect, especially when the play of dazzling light is sharpened by the contrasts of the two key tones. In Wayne Viney’s hands this subtle and minimal tonal range both unifies the composition and invites us to consider the evening hush when the last sun rays dramatise the visible remnants of the day. It is precisely at this time of day, when colour recedes into the dark and neutral tones of black and white, that the timelessness of the great rural Australian plains and the immensity and grandeur of their skies are best captured.

Sheridan Palmer, April 2018