Leaves of Grass features a selection of works on paper from Max Gimblett’s archive.
There is an onslaught of vibrant, riotous colour, pattern, and texture in these works. The scale is human; gesture and movement is implicit. One can almost picture the way the artist’s body moves; see the raised arm, trace the paintbrush through the air and watch the ink splatter across the page. Great swathes of colour – yellow, purple, pink – inch out to the edge of the paper and beyond. There is a sense of release, freedom.
This exhibition borrows its title from a work of the same name which in turn recalls a collection of poetry by American poet Walt Whitman (1819–1892). While the first edition of Leaves of Grass was published in 1855, Whitman spent most of his life writing and re-writing the collection. This process of lifelong revision resulted in vastly different editions published over four decades—with the first a small book of just twelve poems and the last, a compilation of over four hundred.
Gimblett himself is constantly revising, revisiting. In these works we see the familiar motif of the quatrefoil, the wheel; subjects Gimblett returns to again and again, each repetition lending new life to their form. And like Whitman, whose poem I Sing the Body Electric exalts the human body and its relation to the soul, Gimblett aligns the mind and body through his practice, drawing on philosophies of Zen Buddhism rather than the traditional western division of mind-body dualism.