Riley Beaumont

Queensland-born, Canberra-based artist Riley Beaumont revels in cage-rattling, prick-kicking and material dissent – which partly explains the oblique title of his Canberra exhibition, ‘Quixotic Indifference’ – but beneath that persona he is also serious, purposeful in approach, and entranced by paint, moved and moving.

Riley Beaumont’s new exhibition for Australian National Capital Artists (ANCA) Gallery, where he is also a studio resident, comprises paintings and concrete sculpture. He claims to be a poor commentator on his work but is in fact beguilingly eloquent. Words tumble from his lips, hands rise in quivering gesticulation. He speaks of art world crushes enduring and passing. The flamboyant work of Dale Frank figures large. The trademark acid of Joan Ross. The still-cool minimalism of mid-career Fred Williams. The approach of British artist Michael Dean, who refuses ‘to waste any opportunity to insert meaning for the great adventure of the viewer’, is a maxim Beaumont readily adopts for himself and audience, both.

Beaumont says of his process that he ‘never wants an arrival’, as though a conclusion would be fatal not edifying. And while he is a young artist who has sensed and apprehended his ‘style’ early on, he treats it as though it were removed from him, his approach to it fond and enquiring, yet critical.

His work has been described as ‘irreverent’ and ‘unorthodox’, qualities detected at large in his fluid abstraction, but most evident in the successive material experiments that underpin and propel his paintings – in smoke and fire, pushing and thrashing, accretions, tin cans, rocks and coarse stencils, an acute interest in language that is compositional, not purely conceptual. He says he understood that his new work SYG(2019) was complete after sullying the central linoleum strip with fire and laying down a bright blue line that coaxed disparate elements into concert.

There are other works, like Untitled (Regret’s a paradise. Good as. I won’t even mention the gold (oro). Bread and the circus, baroque to broke. dead-set-excess) (2016), in which grunge breaks down into luscious glimmer so disarmingly beautiful that’s it’s dizzying. Beaumont’s skill is that he mixes rough bravura with a startling lightness of touch. It is these moments that make the work compelling.

Riley Beaumont: Quixotic Indifference
9 – 27 October 2019
ANCA Gallery, Canberra

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