RADIO TONI, November 10, 2021
RADIO TONI with Toni Lontis
Our extra special guest today is Patrick Hromas with our interview titled Patrick Hromas Artist: Film Still Portraits, Horses, Brasfort and Bowie
Patrick is a visual artist who was born in Sydney in 1973 and grew up in Hunters Hill. He has been making art ever since he can remember, drawing the Hunters Hill Post Office when I was 13, “built-in 1891 as designed by the government architect, Walter Liberty Vernon, in Queen Anne Style”. Patrick graduated from the Canberra School of Art, Australian National University, in 1996.
He enjoyed an enriching experience as a student exchange recipient with Ecole Nationalé Superieur des Beaux Artes for five months in 1995/6. I suffered from a mental health problem after being hospitalized in Nîmes in the South of France. Now Patrick has largely overcome that health issue, he draws in pastels or conté, paints in oil colors, and occasionally watercolors.
Patrick has shown his artworks in seven solo shows and 48 group exhibitions, as far west as Kingston in the ACT, as far north as Pymble in NSW, as far east as Bronte, and far south as Action in the Australian Capital Territory.
As a member of the Blue Mountains Community Arts Network, Patrick was invited to exhibit his painting: “Macquarie Road (Why should you be different from other men? I am told that there is hardly a husband in London who does not waste his life over some shameful passion.)” in the group exhibition: Infinities of Blue, in the Fountain Court at Parliament House of New South Wales. Most notably, one of Patrick's hand-printed, hand typeset artists' books is in the collection of the Australian National University Library, Acton, ACT.
Patrick adores drawing sitters’ portraits in pastel or conté generally from .jpegs, adding a background image from their favorite holiday happy snaps. Conté is a hard, waxy stick like a crayon and is virtually indelible once applied to fine art paper. Patrick only uses archival-quality materials throughout his practice. He is also a registered NSW eco-aware artist.
Patrick constructs, using Photoshop, mock-ups for the collages or oil paintings by scavenging imagery as a Postmodern surrealist, from a variety of sources. Patrick then goes about weaving the figures in the .jpeg image and further teasing out forms, colors, and compositions, painting the final work from his iMac screen. Only when the balance between these elements and an even an absence or obscurification of the image is reached, so to let the eye rest, as instinct or aesthetics demand, is the painting complete.
Fishers Ghost Art Award Exhibition, Now until 10 December 2021, Campbelltown Arts Centre, 1 Art Gallery Road, Campbelltown NSW, Gallery Hours Monday - Friday 8:30 am - 4:30 pm.
*Braemar Gallery Volunteers 2021 Exhibition, Group Art Exhibition. 9 December 2021 - 16 January 2022, Braemar Gallery, 104 Macquarie Road, Springwood NSW 2777, Gallery hours: Thurs - Sun, 10 am - 4 pm, closed on Public Holidays.
If you’re interested in a pastel / conté gift portrait please text me a few .jpegs: of your beloved human, hound, or horse to 0415 HROMAS, together with a background image from your favorite holiday happy snaps. Only archival quality materials are used throughout. I am a registered NSW eco-aware artist. Otherwise, message me from my webpage: http://bluethumb.com.au/patrick-hromas Prices for an A3 sized artwork are as follows: black and white pastel drawing $AUS120, colored pastel drawing $AUS160, oil painting on canvas $AUS200 and oil painting on Belgian linen $AUS240.
Q1. You studied at ENSBA, in Paris for 5 months over the winter of 1995/96, what was that like? (5 minutes)
197. The Youths Propose 2008, Oil on canvas. 102.5 x 76.7 cm.
Although this oil painting was painted in 2008, it was originally from my Nîmes Series, which started in 1997.
Part of the painting is painted using the “grisalle” technique, linked technically to the Mis En Scene Series, so I also include it in this latter series, which began in 2009.
I was accepted as a student exchange participant at ENSBA, an art school in Paris, France. This was a fantastic time for me, during that winter. Although my French wasn’t good enough to attend classes, I spent my days in the painting department, also visiting the Morphology Department, which had numerous skeletal specimens of creatures like pumas and Zebras.
Whilst on holiday from ENSBA, I traveled to Nîmes in the south of France, where you can still see the striking statue of the bullfighter that features in this artwork. As you can see in the center, a young American woman has cheekily posed for a photo with her hand on his bottom, whist around her two groups of youths engage in a psychological fight over aspects of my soul. To illustrate this battle, I’ve appropriated images from the Star Wars films, including Bobba Fett (LHS) and Jamgo Fett. (RHS).
Q2. Patrick, since drawing Niel as playing a Shakespearian character in Dead Poets Society in 2003 in conté on paper, you have produced numerous actor portraits from the Television screen or portraits of the public from .jpegs. Can you please describe this process and inspiration for this series of drawings?
140. Robin Tunney moved her Left Hand 2004, Pastel and contaé on paper.
193. Jack Sparrow 2007, Pastel and pencil on paper. 42.0 x 22.3 cm. $300@
I used to simply pause the DVD at a particular point of the actor’s performance, that struck a chord with me, then draw what was on the screen. However, in this streaming age, I now often take a screen capture of the image, which I might adjust slightly using my Photoshop Express App, then draw the resulting image from an iPad or iPhone screen.
The first pastel and conté drawing of Robyn Tunny, paused from the 1980’s comedy-drama, “Empire Records”, represents her with her hand frozen, placing an album on a shelf, so her left hand is blurred and distorted.
My viewers have agreed - she looks a little like a female Buddhist monk. Her close-cropped hair mirrors that of a figure on a large scale, stretched drawing from my Equine Behaviour Series, which was sold in 2010.
Conté is a hard, waxy substance, sold in pieces like thin pastels. Once a mark is layered on the drawing, it is very difficult to remove it. Hence it’s an unforgiving drawing medium
The second image utilizes the second method, and I have actually heightened the hues on the right-hand side of our teetering “Jack Sparrow”, whilst draining all color from the image to the left of our famously popular character from “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”. In this artwork, he’s watching a gourd slide down the bamboo pole he’s using as a balance.
Q3. You have had an interest in creating drawings, than oil paintings of and about horses, why do you do so? (10 minutes)
47. The Unseen Heart of Zagreus 2000, Monoprint, charcoal, contaé and chalk on paper. 172 x 100 cm. $450
23. The earth goddess, Bodevi 1996, Charcoal on stretched Canson paper. 130 x 100 cm. $300
*When I was 16 years old, I read “Equus”, a play by Peter Shaffer, written in the year of my birth. Although it describes, using abreaction, how a 17-year-old boy blinds six Horses, I have used the play’s title to describe a collective and spiritual being that links the souls of Horses.
”The Unseen Heart of Zagreus”, utilizes the Ancient Greek myth: Zeus impregnates Persephone, Hades entrusts a few Curetes to entertain Zagreus the baby, which they do, but soon fall asleep. Their enemies, the Titans lure Zagreus away with the following: a cone, a bullroarer, golden apples, a mirror, a knucklebone, and a tuft of wool. All are present in my drawing. Zagreus tries to escape them by assuming several forms before they tore apart his bovine form. Athena stops them, but all that is left is his heart. She places it in a gypsum figurine, breathes life into it, making him immortal.
I’ve placed groups of Horses around the outside of this, drawn in willow charcoal. They enact various forms of dominance and submission, which is reflected in the mono printed I-bar diagram. Zagreus’ heart is depicted in the center, melded with a bull's head, as I call it: a ‘composite symbol’.
The second slide shows a Hindu procession, where the figures are drawn using various forms of charcoal to depict the goddess on a cart which I appropriated anatomy studies from the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. My uni girlfriend posed on my pillow for the preparatory drawings, in 1996, half a year after I returned from Paris. There was no Photoshop back then!
The third slide shows my oil painting from the same year, simply titled: “The plane of innocence”. In it, we can see that I have begun to use glazes of thin oil paint, but I have not used a light purple or blue grisalle like my later paintings from the Mis En Scene Series or my current Bowie/Brasfort Series.
30. The plane of innocence 1996, Oil on canvas. 140 x 100 cm. $300
Q4. You have three main streams of your professional art practice, portraiture, oil paintings, and drawings, how do they relate to your current series: the Brasfort Series and the Equine Behaviour Series? (10 minutes)
230. Mount Allen House (Brasfort) 2016, Oil on canvas. 914 x 610 mm. $700
This first slide shows not the final painting but a preparatory study or mock-up of the artwork, comprised of about 14 layers of photographs, manipulated using Photoshop.
The background image was taken with my mobile phone, near Wentworth Falls, in the beautiful Blue Mountains, where I live. At the top of this cliff, about 150 years ago, an Irish immigrant, Peter Mulheran built a house that became a pub, which was later moved closer to Wentworth Falls train station. His sign can be seen in the lower section. A partially abstracted nude man is lounging on his back, eyes obscured by a black rectangle. The Italian actress, Isabella Rossolini, hovers above him adjusting her garter. Abstract ribbons of paint festoon the space behind our heroine.
As you can see in the final surrealist oil painting, the native plants on the cliff face have a greater variety of hues, and lighter, more pastel tones. The waterfall shown below Rossolini, is a cobalt blue, also greens and blue have been added to one ribbon on the left hand side of the artwork.
As with the previous drawings, we can see that there is a reliance on symbolism and figures, both nude and clothed, Equine and human to poetically describe differences in stories. Not only this but I also describe similarities between themes, in my portraits, oil paintings, and drawings.
Q5. You describe yourself as a postmodern surrealist. Please can you explain what is postmodernism, and how the three 20th Century artists: Eduard Manet, Georgio de Chirico, Francis Picabia have influenced your body of artworks? (10 minutes)
185. Three Modern Martyrs 2006, Ink and pencil on paper. 3 Panels. Each: 126 x 85 cm Overall: 126 x 259 cm (incl. 2cm gap between each panel)
Left panel: $433
Centre Panel: $433
Right Panel: $433
Three Panels: $1300
214. Ferguson Road (Well, you kept paying me elaborate compliments the whole evening.) 2010, Oil on linen on canvas, 61.4 x 61.4 cm. $610
210. Macquarie Road (Why should you be different from other men? I am told that there is hardly a husband in London who does not waste his life over some shameful passion.)
2012, Oil on canvas. 152.0 x 91.4 cm. $1700
*Even though Postmodernism began around 1917, it eventually transformed into an appropriation of architectural styles. In a sense, there is a parallel between the rise of Romanticism in the 19th Century, the period in which Wentworth Falls, (indeed the whole of the Blue Mountains) was settled and divided by white immigrants into places like the housing estate of Brasfort, as it was once known. There’s a culmination of Postmodernism in art in America in quietly working artists like John Bowman, who used romance and irony in equal measure in the 1990s.
*I hope some of this romance can be seen in the left and center panels of my large drawing on stretched Canson paper: “Three Modern Martyrs”, depicting a beautiful statue of the Buddha, carved out of a cliff and destroyed by the Taliban, or the hide of Phar Lap in his glass case in the center panel. Surely there’s irony in the reproduction of a 19th Century French painting of Jesus in the right-hand panel. Perhaps a frontal representation of the human figure with a strong light from one side, as championed by Eduard Manet can be seen in my draftsmanship?
*Certainly the seated female figure in my smaller oil painting “Ferguson Road”, emulates Manet’s “Olympia”. Like the Italian modernist painter, Georgeo de Chirico, many of my artworks from my Mis En Scene Series utilize streetscapes, sections of maps or in this case, the illustration of Ubu Roy from the DaDa play of the same title. DaDa is, of course, also known as an art movement, prior to the European Surrealist art movement.
*Indeed, one of my favorite artists, Francis Picabia is known for his paintings that present the female figure in unusual poses. His early artworks tend towards the Cubist and his latter artworks have a kind of preoccupation with the pin-up, a photographic sensibility of the nude figure. This could be also said of my nudes in my masterpiece “Macquarie Road”.
*The mock-up that I constructed out of 27 layers of photographs, also depicts the actress, Britt Eckland, from the Hammer Horror film “The Wicker Man”. I have consciously retained the horizontal cathode rays that make up her face, effectively quoting video modes of representation. This mock-up shows, in addition, the lilac-blue color that I painted as an underpainting “grisalle” layer, much like Leonardo Da Vinci and Rubens would have used.
*The plastic bag of citrus plant food, seen in the final slide today, in the finished artwork, remains painted in this lovely lilac-blue, but monochrome layer. This hue can also just be discerned in the oval shape, derived from a photo of a plate of bananas that was manipulated using a “difference cloud” command on Photoshop, visible just behind our three nude swimmers.
210. Macquarie Road (Why should you be different from other men? I am told that there is hardly a husband in London who does not waste his life over some shameful passion.) 2012, Oil on canvas. 152.0 x 91.4 cm. $1700
*My drawing was accepted into the above “Fishers Ghost Art Award Exhibition”, as a finalist. The exhibition runs until 10 December 2021, at Campbelltown Arts Centre, 1 Art Gallery Way, Campbelltown NSW. Open Monday to Friday, 8:30 am-4:30 pm.
*Participating in a group art exhibition, called “Braemar Volunteers 2021” that will be shown from 9 December 2021 to 16 January 2022
*Braemar Gallery is open on Thursdays through to Sundays from 10 am to 4 pm. It is closed on Public Holidays. Exhibitions are subject to Covid-19 restrictions.
*I’ve also proposed to exhibit a solo exhibition at Rex-Livingston Art + Objects, in Katoomba NSW, possibly in 2022, but this is still in consultation.
THANK YOU PATRICK!!
Radio Toni is hosted by Toni Lontis, author of Resilience – Memoir of a broken little girl discovering a women of strength and beauty. She is Australia’s rising talkback radio queen, who is not afraid to facilitate interviews across the more difficult conversations of our day, bringing her brand of social consciousness to the airwaves.
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