Sunday, March 6, 2016

Gallery 1

Hidden - Works of a Recluse

Neal Booth

Neal Booth in front of one of his pivotal works in the exhibition

Neal Booth is a dedicated father co-parenting his children, working to support himself, and committed to making art.  His academic achievements include completion of a Master of Philosophy (Fine Art) for which he received a scholarship.

Neal loves connecting with nature and the building materials of the earth.  His colour palette reflects this quite directly as he uses the materials of the earth as his pigment and paint.  It is a sophisticated and restrained palette, layered, distressed or harshly ground back and re-layered through to completion.  There is an obvious influence of the works of Anselm Kiefer and Neal spoke of his connection to the work of Andy Goldsworthy, and the writing of American art critic and sculptor Donald Judd.

“My art is an investigation into my intuitive and emotional understanding of nature and the landscape and how it can be expressed through the use of natural materials as medium and object.”

Raw materials are physically collected from places that hold significance and transported back to be transformed. Neal uses various acrylic emulsions to stabilise the individual substructures in his process if necessary. The small photographic works were all taken at times and in places that hold sentimental attachment.

“ practice is an investigation into the use of earthen materials as an emotionally cathartic process.”

The works appear solid and heavy but sometimes looks can be deceptive and perhaps the physical strength of an object is the result of soft, light, vulnerable individual layers laminated and impacted together to create such strength or the illusion of same.

In a reversal that is not uncommon Neal finds himself a teacher and mentor to his mother who is currently following in her son’s footsteps and undertaking studies in Fine Art at University level.

This is an exhibition of professional and polished works. I absolutely love this collection of pieces.

If you want to talk to Neal about his work, just say hello and introduce yourself, are interested in collaborating in a project, or commissioning a specific art work, please email Neal directly at

Gallery 2

No Distance Left to Run

Vasanth Rao 

Vasanth Rao with his wife Pravina and the NAS co-directors Jordan Fardell and Melissa Bull on opening night

“Honest expression and innocence are the two key influences in my art and personality.  I believe in expressing not impressing...”

Vasanth has a Master of Sociology and has been making art for 17 years as a self-taught artist.  Three years ago he moved to Australia with his wife Pravina whose family is located in Australia. The foundation of Vasanth’s art is based within his love for Indian folk and tribal art.  When I talked to Vasanth he was passionate about his choice to engage with honest, innocent and expressive elements within his work.  His visual language comes directly from his heart without pre-planning as he immerses himself into a personal exploration of identity.

...”I have fallen in love with my silence and loneliness so much so that it has become a positive addiction for me.  This silence is my work zone and the birth place of my ideas.  It simply ends up as ‘Art Meditation’ wherein I find eternal peace.”

There is so much colour, and pattern-making sitting on the surface of his works.  Marks are applied almost with child-like eagerness to release the joy he finds while in this creative state.  Drawing is as much a part of his daily ritual as sleeping and eating.  His many exhibitions allow for evolution of ideas and practice while receiving feedback and interaction with the viewer.

For Vasanth life and art are beautiful and making it brings him satisfaction and hope. There certainly is joy, colour, and both spontaneous and planned mark-making within the works.  I have never seen work like this before or not that I can remember.  Some works utilise a black background which provides a dynamic space on which to layer energetic visual expression. Others show that urgent, free, unrestricted and expressive mark he applies with acrylic and oil pastels.

What a lovely experience listening to Vasanth speak exuberantly of his art experience with such passion.

View other works by Vasanth at
Read some details in English and listen to an interview in his native language with Vasanth on SBS Radio at

If you would like to talk to Vasanth directly about art in general, collaborative projects, commissions, or interviews please contact him directly on

Chris Byrnes
NAS blogger

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