Two years ago I was staying at a friend’s house near the water in Palm Beach, Australia. There was a large room with many large works of Australian painters, and I noticed one small painting about 4 by 3 inches, of a sail. It could have been of anything. The painted marks flew over the tiny surface with great gesture and natural ease. I asked who painted this and where was the artist. “Up the block, he has a bacon and eggs breakfast spot on the beach.” “Can we see him?”
Wayne was painting in a small widow’s walk on the top of his house, and when I visited him the friend who had brought me there volunteered that Wayne had a story to go with each painting. I said, “Let me look at the painting. I don’t need to hear the story first.” I did. And loved the small paintings that he had made in his tower. And after looking, I read the stories. And the stories were good. Wayne is a narrative painter – inhabiting and traveling along in his imagination. The narration is a source of life, life at sea, imagery, content and the joy and discovery of the painted world.
– Julian Schnabel, March 29, 2018
Ibid Gallery presents the debut US solo exhibition of Sydney-based painter Wayne Magrin.
At the center of Magrin’s large-scale paintings are larger-than-life characters engulfed in dramatic scenarios. Magrin began painting to tell stories, and soon after discovered the potential for images to transcend narrative. Whether dropping in on a monstrous wave in Portugal or dancing on sleepy waves in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Wayne depicts how malleable time becomes when met with adrenaline and bliss. A linear narrative is sensed in each picture without needing to flatten the moment into words – there is already enough belief in the painting.
The stories embedded in Magrin’s paintings come out of real-life encounters, the artist’s own fictions, Australian folklore, or a combination of these sources. While hitchhiking in Western Australia in the mid- 1980’s, Magrin was picked up by a short, jovial man driving a three-hitch tractor trailer who talked non-stop across the Nullarbor Plain. Among other things, the truck driver told Magrin a wild story of how he descended from a late 1800’s bushranger who draped himself in jewelry and rode an ostrich. Decades later, having forgotten about that leg of the journey, Magrin’s wife Sharon shared a story from the local newspaper about an ostrich-riding bushranger named John Peggotty. After some research and memory recollection, Magrin was compelled to paint what became his OSTRICH BUSHRANGER series.
There is much pleasure in Magrin’s pictures, on the part of both the artist and the viewer. The lip of a wave or force of a gale is painted in such a way that one is nearly convinced of Magrin’s oceans and deserts more so than his protagonists. While the landscapes and environments in Magrin’s paintings are largely responsible for the eccentric qualities of his protagonists, they too have stories to tell.
Wayne Magrin was born 1961 in Sydney, Australia. He was included in the 2016 exhibition UNKNOWN – THE MAGNIFICENT 10 (curated by Julian Schnabel) at the Ludwig Museum in Koblenz, Germany. His paintings are held in private collections in the Unites States, Australia, and New Zealand. Magrin currently lives and works in the Northern Beaches suburb of Sydney.
The Far Away and the Familiar (Narrative Paintings of Surfers, Sailors and Bushrangers) is the first in a series of solo exhibitions curated by Julian Schnabel for Ibid Gallery in Los Angeles. As a painting cycle, the series will build upon his 2016 curated exhibition and publication UNKNOWN – THE MAGNIFICENT 10 at the Ludwig Museum in Koblenz.