Adam Pyett

Photography by Ian Hill

There is a tough structure and playful approach to still life that underpins Adam Pyett’s paintings. An early interest in abstraction remains evident across his now recognisable subject matter with strong compositional elements and tightly developed imagery. He uses paint to convey a quintessentially Australian aesthetic on subjects as diverse as flowers, found objects and punk rock iconography.

When he paints flowers he chooses mostly Indigenous Australian species where a spiky toughness of both leaf and appearance allow a rugged depiction that renders the foliage sculptural over a luminous background. In recent years his subject choices have also included unpretentious objects from the everyday, rendered on a large Pop Art scale. The detritus of modern life, such as aluminium drink cans, may be reflected and morphed inside a glass bowl of water, becoming atmospheric, gothic and menacing with painterly character. Most recently, landscapes from Victoria (where he lives) are thinly sketched with surface atmosphere rendering trees almost transparent against a setting sun, evoking the evening, soft light or cloud with their paint quality.

Since his graduation in 1994, Pyett has pursued colour theory and the capabilities and intrinsic qualities available to painting. What he defines as important is to make paintings where the subject is secondary to the quality and success of the image. He uses different methods to apply paint, scrape it back, and rub it off, exploring the inventive possibilities of colour and composition. Accordingly, his method distances the subject. Instead of painting directly from an object or landscape, he creates a drawing as an intermediary stage, then paints from the drawing to make the paint paramount.

Pyett’s work has been recognised with a solo survey, Still Life Painting at Geelong Gallery (2017), inclusion in Ballarat Art Gallery’s Romancing the Skull (2017) and Painting More Painting at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2016). He has been a finalist in the Len Fox Painting Prize, John Leslie Art Prize, and the Geelong Contemporary Art Prize. His work is part of the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, Monash University Museum of Art, Geelong Gallery, Art Gallery of Ballarat, Tweed Regional Gallery and Artbank, in addition to private collections in Australia and the USA.

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