Gunter Christmann, SIDE SHOW MAX, 2010,
acrylic on paper on canvas, 70 x 70cm
Gunter Christmann was born in Berlin in 1936 and arrived in Melbourne in February of 1959. He moved to Sydney and started painting in 1962. Christmann's first exhibition in 1965 was a group show, 25 Young Painters, at the Argus Gallery in Melbourne. The following year he held his first solo exhibition at Central Street Gallery, Sydney and has exhibited regularly since that time both in Australia and overseas. Christmann has shown annually at Niagara Galleries, Melbourne since 1984. A groundbreaking and subversive artist since the 1960s, Christmann resists following any trend but instead finds inspiration to create innovative new work from the objects and places that surround him.
Christmann became what he describes as 'ground conscious' in the mid-1970s after more than five years of painting with the canvas spread on the floor so he could rain down multi-hued paint, with uncanny accuracy, to create the 'sprinkle paintings' as they are now known. This new consciousness of the earth beneath his feet revealed to him an endless source of material. He collects stones, leaves and other colourful detritus he finds as he goes about his daily life in Darlinghurst, placing them within a self-constructed 'float tank' or 'dry box' and documenting the objects as they bounce off each other and the edge of the container/frame in myriad variations.
The artist's job is then to select from amongst these random compositions, those with the aesthetic and formal qualities he wishes to translate onto canvas. Christmann finds great joy the 'richness of infinite possibilties' offered up by this method. Decades after he started, he returns to the 'float tank' and 'dry box' knowing that as long as he supplies them with life he sources from the streets, they will continue to provide endless options for his choosing.
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