Elwyn Lynn



Elwyn Lynn, Tied Property, 1977, mixed media on paper, 55x77 cm.

Elwyn Lynn, Marbled, 1975, mixed media on paper, 77x55 cm.


Elwyn Lynn, widely known for his art criticism and writing, was an Australian matter painter. Matter painting was a facet of abstraction concerned with the metaphysics of phenomena, placing emphasis on the experimental use of texture, material additives and process. A leading exponent was the Italian artist, Alberto Burri who sometimes burnt his work. Lynn, a contemporary of Peter Clarke, also went further than emulation of an international style, he personalised his painting. Described by Peter Pinson as possessing a ‘roughly hewn larrikinism’,[[1]] Lynn says of his childhood in Junee, ‘You were always conscious of soil.’[[2]] Junee, in south central N.S.W., is ‘Drysdale country’ being susceptible to drought and isolation. Lynn’s personal photographs are of simple but iconic constructs in the landscape such as weathered shed walls of rusted corrugated iron. The references to land through cracked, furrowed and incised texture, range from dark brooding salutations of the landscape to more celebratory works, and are a direct reference to his origins. Whilst the concept and technique are informed by European artists including Tàpies, Dubuffet and Duchamp, Lynn also follows on from the bleakness of Drysdale.

Lynn’s choice of materials and the use of those materials is Australian. Makeshift ‘depression’ or ‘bush’ materials are favoured, and include sewn hessian sacs, packing crates, cardboard, rope, and brown paper. These cheap, everyday materials, were then sometimes torn, and used in an intentionally ‘not too flash manner’. Bound rope around sticks, is also sometimes used in a competent, solid, bushman-like manner. His paintings are ‘made’ rather than ‘professionally’ painted, with apparent additives to the traditional artist’s paint including glue, earth pigments and sand. As a consequence, the works appear to be the residue of play, or freewheeling improvisation. The result: the conjuring of landscape through enactment.

Excerpt from PhD exegesis, 'Makeshift, Abstraction and the Australian Patina', 2009.


    1.  Peter Pinson, Elwyn Lynn: metaphor + texture (St Leonards, N.S.W.: Craftsman House, 2002), 24.

     2.  Ibid, 13.

No comments: