15th June 2013
By Richard Birmingham
There can’t be too many people in Melbourne Art circles who remain unaware of Godwin Bradbeer’s powerful drawings and stellar career spanning over 40 years (The NGV surprisingly has only three of his early works from the middle and late seventies).
No surprise then that Godwin’s artists talk at Hawthorn Artists Society was well attended and well worth attending. Technical problems with the projector prevented the use of slides or notes but Godwin, unfazed, proceeded to give a brilliant and entertaining two hour lecture full of valuable insight and amusing anecdotes delivered with his usual wit and charm.
Bradbeer’s images have seared into the consciousness of practitioners and the viewing public for many years now and throughout, the figure has remained a constant in his practice. His use of the figure parallels great drawing and painting from the Renaissance in both ambition and technical mastery. The condition of being human, the corporeal, the transcendent and the flesh and blood are somehow made to co-exist in the one image. More than this though the figure itself becomes an arena of performance where the image is conjured from the fabric of the paper, unfolding before us in real time. Here the artist is communicating through touch and immediacy as well as personal vision.
Bradbeer has always placed a high value on the craft of drawing. His physical presence in the work is evidenced by countless movements of the hand across the paper. We witness the act of making and feel the artist’s presence in those scratches, in the rubbing back into the charcoal and the burnishing of the paper.
Godwin spoke about his love of line and its freehand use in commencing a large work, also how self- knowledge informs the drawing’s progress. “You know the proportion of the body because you live in the body; this knowledge is then transferred to your own work.”
Godwin has always displayed a generosity of spirit in his role as a teacher and in the countless exhibitions he has opened for emerging artists. He enjoys wide respect for his drawing and much affection for the person he is.
Godwin won the Dobell Drawing prize in 1998, has exhibited widely throughout Australia, including a curated major retrospective exhibition “The Metaphysical Body- A Survey” 2006 – 2008 which travelled to regional galleries in Victoria and NSW.
He is represented in public and private collections in Australia and overseas including, The Australian National Gallery, The National Gallery of Victoria, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, The Art Gallery of South Australia and Parliament House Canberra, to name just a few.