Roger Kemp: Visionary Modernist is the first major exhibition to chart the development of acclaimed Australian abstract artist Roger Kemp’s career. Best known for his large-scale tapestries that hang in the National Gallery of Victoria’s Great Hall, Kemp is recognised as one of the great inventors in abstract art, striving ‘to make visible the invisible’.
Featuring several never before publicly exhibited works, the exhibition is the most comprehensive retrospective of this artist’s work since his death in 1987. Comprising paintings, prints and sketches, the exhibition explores the artist’s extraordinary career, beginning with his earliest paintings of symbolic landscapes and angular dancing figures, through to his late works, which reveal an artist whose concerns go beyond the physical world.
A unique and enigmatic artist, his interest was not in the overriding traditions of figurative and landscape art, nor the prevailing trends in non-objective art, but rather something much deeper and more metaphysical. In Kemp’s later works – highly resolved paintings of the 1960s, 70s and 80s – the geometric structure heightens the symbolic richness contained within. His works from this period are charged with great emotional energy and are the pinnacle of an artistic and spiritual journey.
Tony Ellwood AM, Director, National Gallery of Victoria said, ‘The four large-scale tapestries that hang in the Gallery’s Great Hall are among the Gallery’s most identifiable pieces of art and this exhibition presents a timely and comprehensive review of these and other dynamic abstract works from the artist’s career.’
The NGV is publishing a comprehensive monograph to coincide with the exhibition, which features the artist’s work and new scholarship from Australian experts.
This solo exhibition follows recent major solo surveys at NGV Australia, including Rosslynd Piggott and Darren Sylvester, and kicks off the next season of upcoming solo exhibitions, showcasing the work of Australian designer Lucy McCrae and photographers Petrina Hicks and Polixeni Papapetrou later this year.
Roger Kemp: Visionary Modernist is on display from 22 August 2019 to 15 March 2020 at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square. Entry is FREE. Further information is available from the NGV website: NGV.MELBOURNE.