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Search terms: oil, alle fresco, figurative, abstract
About the Artist
Greg Cliffe's paintings are figurative narratives about change in family and social values. He attempts to make everyday life an archetypal reflection on human behaviour.
The paintings focus on Sydney families and their surrounding communities over several generations. Cliffe draws on stories and photo-documentation in juxtaposing events and places from different times with present social concerns. He peels back the strata of accumulated memory of people and spaces to form a layering of substance, sensation and thought. The paintings' layers form a totalised time much like the writing of Allende or Woolf.
Cliffe intends his audiences to see an immediate connection with subject matter through similarities in their own experience. He achieves this by making the picture space an extension of the viewer's space and by making the tactile, sensual paint surfaces engage their audience in emotive ways. The audience is expected to leave the exhibition with work to do about the emotional content of the paintings.
The paintings create an aura or visual energy that symbolises the passage of family and cultural memory through morphic resonance over time. The combination of traditional oil techniques of imprimatura and glazing with alle fresco syringe and paintwork has enabled him to accentuate the vast chasms of sensibility that exist between different times, classes and even blood relatives.
2002 - Graduated, Master of Arts (Hons)-Contemporary Arts at The
University of Western Sydney, Nepean
Selected exhibitions and awards:
2003 - Group Show, Alleyway Arts, Springwood, New South Wales,
"Fragmented Values: Compulsive Lives" By Greg Cliffe
An exhibition of paintings at The Tin Sheds Gallery, Faculty of Architecture, 154 City Road, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia , September 21st -October 13th, 2001.
"My inner-city family and community witnessed intense social dislocation through demographic changes to Sydney during the 20th century. The fracturing of communities created the fragmentation of value systems and increased compulsive behaviour. Nuclear family, loss of kinship and isolation buried old familial and community ties."
"I have become preoccupied with how we deal with change and socio- political events differently to people in previous generations and communities. My work therefore draws on verbal narrative and photo-documentation of past and present lives. The influence of writers such as Isabel Allende and Virginia Woolf, who focus on memory and temporal qualities have inspired this approach."
"The use of narrative in my painting, where events and interactions from different lives are juxtaposed, encourages my audience to compare their personal experiences with the stories contained in my work. I see similarities between my work and the British filmmaker Mike Leigh, though he does tend to work in a single time frame. Any judgements my audience makes, prompted by the artwork, are based on similar experiences to their own. My characters commence the painting process as chronicled persons but, as the painting evolves, become fictional characters in a fictional narrative that acts a timeless fable."
"My work proposes the theory, that at anyone moment, family, community, cultural and historical memories culminate in one thought, action or process. Through an overlaying of moments, past and present, I hope to achieve a mixture of substance, sensation and thought-much like Proust's totalised time. Through the peeling back of strata of memories I hope to achieve a true reality, a deepening of awareness, an insight to share with my audience."
"The use of figuration in my work ties the content of my painting to the audience. In my painting, the illusionary representation of human form and spaces engages the audience with the interactions between depicted characters and their behaviour. As in the paintings of Caravaggio, the picture spaces often give the illusion of being an extension of the viewer's space."
"Audiences are also engaged by the tactility of
the painted surface and its affect on the sensations of the viewer.
The corporeal nature of my canvases is integral to the existence of
temporal depths in my painting. The combination of traditional oil
techniques of Imprimatura, glazing and chiaroscuro with more direct
alle fresco and linear syringe painting, has enabled me to
accentuate the vast chasms of sensibility that exist between
different times, classes and even blood relatives. This difference
in sensibilities highlights the vast change in values that has
occurred in a short period of time."