Canberra Times, 14 April 2009

Fresh visions in dark sides fully satisfy

Sasha Grishin

Bruce Latimer is one of Australia's finest artist etchers who over the past 35 years has created an effective personal surreal pictorial language of the Australian landscape. While irony and under-statement have been in his artistic arsenal for many years, in the past few years frivolity and the slightly mocking comments concerning people's interaction with the environment have given way to darker and more apocalyptic images. Latimer once commented on his prints, "My work is generally about the intrusion of humans into the natural environment. People, in folly mode, are represented by their tools and edifices, rather than by the human form. The landscapes are sublime, the intrusions, ridiculous." His creations appear as seductively convincing from a distance, but as one is drawn into the work the complexity of the multi-tiered imagery grows increasingly apparent. Trees grow out of honeycombs dark chandeliers hang from branches but fail to illuminate the path of night birds and spiders fill the dawn sky like morning stars. Four of the most powerful images in the exhibition, Iron cove, Showboat, Banks and Glover and Vast Numbers, all open up the potential for post-colonial readings of the imagery. They speak of subverted utopias, dysfunctional societies and of threatened environments. While much environmental art preaches to its audience and we patiently stomach the didactic medicine, Latimer has the rare ability through the complete mastery of technique to create wonderfully seductive images which are beautiful and captivating as art objects, but which also carry a considerable punch. He is not an illustrator of pious sermons, but a major artist who manages to think through the techniques of intaglio printmaking to create exciting and immaculate surfaces. The narratives which he creates are fantastic, humorous and unusual and are loaded with a myriad of poignant detail for the viewer to discover. It is an unusual ability to see the world with fresh eyes and to expose the dark side of the landscape in such a humorous manner as to make this effective and memorable. This is a very strong exhibition by a significant artist who is challenging the way we understand our environment. In his art the sense of black humour is growing ever increasingly intense as our impact on the global environment and the spreading cult of ugliness is starting to threaten not only the beautiful environment, but our very existence. This is an exhibition not to be missed.


A detail of Bruce Latimer's Gap. Latimer is one of Australia's finest artist etchers.

Landscape with cranes

Latimer's Landscape with Cranes