Auction Highlight Spring 2011 Elwyn Lynn (1917-1997)

“The traces of time are all around us and they have little effect on our senses that is, until it becomes time to paint the house.”

Lot 23 Elwyn Augustus Lynn – Curve on White

When he saw the work of the European artists Antonio Tapies and Emil Schumaker in 1958 Lynn’s eyes were opened to the visual excitement that time and the elements can induce. He was touring Europe and had seen their paintings at the Venice Biennale and was astounded that the weathering effect on ordinary everyday items could be the subject for sublime works of art.

He became an immediate enthusiast for textural paintings and was eager to explore the possibilities of this new form of expression and how it could relate to Australia with all its variables.

Texture painting fitted perfectly into the Australian artistic oeuvre, but intellectually in the 50’s it was astray. Australia was isolated and not ready for abstraction – it was viewed as an international conspiracy. The influence of the traditional and modern figurative painters was in power and difficult to dislodge. Lynn viewed this disinterest as a challenge and in addition to creating visually uplifting works he applied an intellectual component and titled his works accordingly.

He trusted that the viewer, after digesting the visual and tactile elements, would search for the meaning of the title and understand how the piece fitted the name – unfortunately his trust was vain. Very few rose to the challenge and visually his work failed to interest those outside of the major collecting institutions. From the intellectual viewpoint very few bothered to accept the test.

Lynn provided for his family through teaching, writing and critiquing, and every spare moment saw him at work in his studio persisting and finding satisfaction on his output. He never lost confidence in his direction and persevered until the end. He knew that his position in Australian Art History could not be undone and the time for wider appeal of his work would arrive.

Through technology the world has taken on village proportions and abstraction has emerged in Australia. The worldlier and younger brigade of collectors and enthusiasts are comfortable with Lynn’s images and are often surprised that Australian works of this type are nearly 60 years old.

The public has finally caught up with him. Today the visual and tactile elements are stimulating the viewers and the challenge of the title is at last being accepted. There is a new appreciation for his pictures.