Can Lightning Strike Twice? My Latest Archibald Entry

By Charles Mouyat

As a one time finalist I am grateful for the opportunity to paint Ian Moss again. It’s an honour and a privilege. He’s a bonafide legend, and the most unassuming human being you could ever meet. Everyone knows Ian as the beloved guitarist for Oz music heavyweights Cold Chisel and for his chart-topping solo career. His oeuvre is marked by earthy songs that can make you ache in response to their beauty and strip you naked with their unvarnished realism.

Ian sings like an angel and plays like the devil, with a quiet personal bearing that is utterly unexpected given his epic career success — hence the title, “Dark Horse”. I’ve depicted him observing the observer with silent regard as he distils the essence of his observations for expression in his own art.

Photography

The painting itself is H-U-G-E… Candidly, the best thing about last year’s success was actually seeing my work hanging in context at the AGNSW… What looked like a “big” painting in my suburban home got somewhat lost on the walls of that great edifice. Paradoxically, finalists that are unashamedly small manage to carry their own integrity that works for them in that space. They draw you in with their modesty and demand more intimate consideration…. My 2020 portrait of Matt Kean was neither small nor large (and to my mind looked like it did not know what it wanted to be). With the opportunity to paint someone with the profile of Ian Moss, I’d be crazy not to maximise all aspects of my work in hopes of a sophomore hanging. To that end, the only solution was to go “larger than life”, literally, at well over 2.1 x 1.5 metres with this work.

I hand stretched the canvas myself, and was instantly confronted by the reality of working on something at that scale. The logistics are anything but casual, and it’s plainly obvious that you can’t paint anything at an ‘institutional’ scale without being seriously committed to your work, leaving me with a newfound respect for the bigger portraits. They’re heavy and difficult to handle as the stretched fabric over cumbersome stretcher bars adds up in a way that took me by surprise. Add the inherent fragility of the surface, and you have an extremely difficult-to-handle challenge in the making.

Actually covering the canvas with oil paint was not as difficult as you’d expect. In fact, the luxury of using broad brushstrokes to create intimate detail is quite a thrill… Getting to the extreme top and bottom of the frame was a challenge for my ageing body, but I worked it out, and will definitely continue working at this scale having the means and opportunity to do so.
To be perfectly candid, my artistic skill absolutely underpins and informs all of my work at Studio Nero. A deep appreciation of light and composition have a net positive effect on everything that we produce in the digital design space. Frankly, for me, “art” and “design” can’t be separated. Whether my compositions take the form of a painting, drawing, photography or motion pictures, in retouching, copywriting, creating a soundtrack or editing a piece to camera, these things are all part-and-parcel of the same artistic continuum. And furthermore, I take great pleasure bringing these innate passions to bear for our clients at Studio Nero.
All said, I hope you like my painting, and care enough to wish me an extension of last year’s success in making the Archibald Prize finals.
Photography
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here at Studio Nero.

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