‘If he’s not recorded in the book, he probably wrote it’ is a common reference to Elwyn Lynn. Artist, writer, teacher, administrator and critic, his contribution to Australian art was wide and varied with the eternal legacies being his writing and his artworks.
Considered to be Australia’s foremost textural painter Lynn’s pictures are as sharp today as they were when first painted, and it isn’t uncommon to see a confused stare when it is explained to an interested observer that a picture by Lynn was painted in Australia 50 or more years ago. He was doing then, what others are discovering today.
Visual, tactile and with intellectual appeal Lynn often posed questions through his titles and encouraged his audience to seek further answers “Hi” was painted in 1968 when he was teaching in Sydney at the Cleveland St Boy’s High School. It was also a time he was reacquainting himself with the international art movements that he feared were passing Australia by.
By his earlier standards the texture of “Hi” is minimal as is its literal component, though his abstracted palette remains consistent. The work is restrained though containing an element of humour. Is “Hi” the greeting from a chipped tooth student at the beginning of a new school year or is it Lynn’s own greeting to his modified technique that would reduce the grainy surface and increase collage? Prehaps it is neither, but regardless of the riddle of the title “Hi” is an example of early Australian abstraction and important to Lynn’s oeuvre.