Neil Frazer – ‘Australian Art Collector’


Australian fine art writer

What Now?


You have travelled extensively to remote places such as Antarctica, the Southern Alps in New Zealand and the deserts of inland Australia. Can you describe some of these journeys?

It’s true I love a good road trip. That goes for boats and small planes as well. The trips allow a direct physical involvement with the landscape; the sensations of swimming, running and climbing in a remote and at times dangerous environment provide an experience that goes much deeper than just looking. I have a waterproof camera and wetsuit that get quite a bit of use. It’s a challenge to go beyond the boundaries of traditional landscape painting to do something more than getting off the bus and working en plein air from whatever is in front of you.

Many contemporary painters move stylistically from the landscape towards abstraction, whereas your work has evolved from abstract expressionism towards a more figurative style in recent years.

I don’t see so many differences between abstract and figurative painting. Many of the same qualities exist for me in both ways of working. It was always my practice as an abstract painter to draw, take rubbings from rocks and study the broader geology and geography of an area – bringing back to the studio foliage or rocks and soil. As a figurative painter this process has become more directed toward describing a particular area or memory; the response to that place is an emotional as well as a cerebral one.

Your paintings – often monumental in their size and scale – possess a real physicality, as do your painterly surfaces with their thick, impasto brushstrokes. Is this quality of rawness and muscularity important in your artwork?

Like most other expressive painters the manner of paint application tells as much about the artist as the picture. I try to juxtapose the thick textured and layered surfaces with the plain white areas that create a deeply recessed space into which the eye might float.
I’m a very physical guy, the actual painting for me is the best bit, and I would hope in some way that the physicality of the picture could perhaps mirror the energy evident in the natural world – translating paint into experience.

You have some quite idiosyncratic painting methods, including using rags and your fingers or hands to apply the paint and flicking it onto the canvas straight from the tube. Can you discuss your process of painting?

I see painting as something of an act of invention in a technical sense – the physical and kinetic act of paint application to create textures and rhythms that mirror those of the natural world. In the past, using plant matter or sticks taken from the location in the act of painting helped maintain a physical link when back in the studio.

So what landscape are you immersing yourself in for your next series of paintings?

The current series of coastal works is culminating in my November show at Martin Browne Contemporary in Sydney. I have undertaken a number of trips, the last of which was a day boating out of Jervis Bay around the Beecroft Peninsular. The paintings have tended to take on an increasingly agitated quality I’m not sure if that’s more about me…


Neil Frazer’s latest series of paintings will be exhibited at Martin Browne Contemporary from 15 November to 9 December 2012.

Art exhibition interview by Victoria Hynes
Neil Frazer, Empire, 2012. Acrylic on canvas, 137 x 137cm. COURTESY: THE ARTIST AND MARTIN BROWNE CONTEMPORARY, SYDNEY