'MEMENTO' - PETER GODWIN


Defiance Gallery presents Peter Godwin at Yellow House Sydney

Peter Godwin is one of Australia’s leading painters. The unique character of Godwin's work springs partly from his use of egg tempera, which handles like an oil-based paint but its fast-drying properties allow him to quickly build up layer upon layer. Godwin will scratch back into the surfaces, creating thin, meandering lines that break up the dark recessive planes he uses as a backdrop.  

The artist regularly paints the interior of his studio and while these paintings have strong abstract elements the objects they contain are easily recognizable: chairs, easels, squid, tribal masks from New Guinea, a lemon, a skull, a dead bird, even a harpsichord. Godwin loves to paint things that are old and familiar, returning to the same motifs because he finds there is always another way of approaching them, something to add to his store of perceptions. 

In Memento, Godwin continues to paint his working space, but he has stripped the detail right back, focusing on the lines of the room and patterns in fabric. Bold plains of colour delineate walls from curtains from tables, broken only by simple, solid, forms - masks, paintbrushes and so on depicted by shape rather than detail. This allows the strong, rich colours and beautifully textured surfaces to become to focus of the works and showcases Godwin’s mastery over his materials. 

Peter Godwin was born in Sydney in 1953 and studied at Hornsby College and the National Art School, Sydney. The artist worked as a sessional lecturer in painting and drawing at the latter after his graduation in1983 until 2005. While he produced his own work throughout this time, his perfectionist nature prevented him from regularly exhibiting until 2002, when he was in his fifties. Once he began to show at Defiance Gallery he enjoyed instant success, quickly attracting the attention of Australian collectors and enjoying sell out exhibitions. 

Godwin’s work is represented in private, corporate and public collections including the Art Gallery of South Australia and Parliament House, Canberra. He was awarded the Art Gallery of New South Wales Gruner Prize in 1979 and again in 1985, was the recipient of the Mosman Art Prize in 2004 and was selected as a finalist in the Art Gallery of NSW Sulman Prize in 2007.