– Other Worlds – Philip Wolfhagen’s Latest Exhibition

by Elizabeth Fritz

Other Worlds, is a collection of landscape paintings that embody the subtleties of the natural world; the changing light and weather, the evolving colours and the textural intricacies of the environment. But it’s the depth within the landscapes, the movement, and the emotional response that standout.

The landscape that surrounds Tasmanian artist Philip Wolfhagen, has been penetrating his being for a long time. They are triggers for new works, sources of colour and light, and they are a connection to the past and the present. Landscapes, and elements within the landscapes fuel his imagination and solidify a starting point. From here, with the inclusion of classical music, beeswax, and a primary colour palette his evocative and perceptual paintings begin to develop.

Philip Wolfhagen The Serpentine Path 2015 Oil and beeswax on linen 96.0 x 338.0 cm (overall) Image courtesy the artist and Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne
Philip Wolfhagen
The Serpentine Path 2015
Oil and beeswax on linen
96.0 x 338.0 cm (overall)
Image courtesy the artist and Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne

The Serpentine Path 2015, a group of three paintings on linen with oil and beeswax, depicts impressions of the undulations in the land. Rocks, shrubs and paths and a never-ending horizon complete the picture. The subdued colours of browns, greys and greens are blended to create contrast, depth and texture all at once. For Wolfhagen, a landscape isn’t about precision and accuracy but rather a representation of the natural world, in which he harnesses the atmosphere, the mood and the light. His paintings are emotive and represent a snapshot of a fleeting moment in nature.

Philip Wolfhagen Other World No. 1 2015 oil and beeswax on linen 200.0 x 214.0 cm Image courtesy the artist and Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne
Philip Wolfhagen
Other World No. 1 2015
oil and beeswax on linen
200.0 x 214.0 cm
Image courtesy the artist and Karen Woodbury Gallery, Melbourne

The large scale Other World No.1 2015 draws the viewer into the landscape. The shear size is like a window you could move through. Strong shades of browns and oranges in the foreground are gradually teamed with greys and blues that fade into the distance. The painting commands stillness as the eye moves into the distance. It is as though Wolfhagen’s landscapes urge the viewer to stop and take notice.

Discussion between author and Philip Wolfhagen

Elizabeth
I have read that music plays a very important part in your painting process. One of the standout features in your paintings is movement, is it your engagement with the music that enlivens your paintings?

Phillip
I would say that listening to music keeps me aloof from the act of painting. It is a means to maintaining a separation; it promotes more rational thought processes, and is a caution against too much self awareness. It is possible that the influence of the music translates into movement, if not in the image itself, then certainly in the accumulation of gestures that comprise the image.

Elizabeth 
Another standout feature is the depth you create in your landscapes. Does the depth represent the deep feelings you have with the natural world and the deep respect for the historical and cultural past?

Phillip 
The illusion of receding space is a vital element in my work because each successive painting is representative of a journey; a never ending reinvention of self. The passage from ones own position to the always shifting vanishing point is inexhaustible in its potential for meaning. 

Philip Wolfhagen
Other Worlds
1 July-1 August 2015

Karen Woodbury Gallery
Level 1/167 Flinders Lane
Melbourne

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