Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Australian Artist's Work to Benefit Moroccan Children

David Hinchliffe is a renowned Australian artist who recently spent time in Morocco. His beautiful and colourful paintings of local souks are for sale exclusively through The View From Fez. David has generously offered to donate 20% of the proceeds to the Medina Children's Library in Fez

Fez Medina. Oil on canvas.  35x40cm.  $1100

David Hinchliffe's work is highly collectable. He has had recent sell-out exhibitions in London, New York, Hong Kong, Paris and Brisbane, and has won numerous art prizes. Fascinated by cities, David has also had experience of running one - he was, until recently, Deputy Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Australia.

Over the next few weeks The View From Fez will display more paintings from his series on Morocco. David feels passionately that art should be affordable, so has kept the prices of these works far below what his work usually commands in galleries.

David has travelled and painted widely in the United States and UK and is represented extensively in collections around the world. While his work is principally oils on canvas or linen, he has also produced many gouache works and sculpture as well as holding two exhibitions of his photographs.

Light and Shade in the Medina. Oil on canvas 35x40cm. $1100

In his own words - David Hinchliffe says :


Nothing really prepares you for Fez. It’s a complete assault on the senses – sight, smell, sound and of course taste.

For an artist however, the greatest of these is sight. The Fez medina is such an artist’s paradise.

It’s no surprise that some of the great artists of the world such as Delacroix, Matisse and Australia’s own Brett Whitely were hugely influenced by their experience in Morocco.

I’m not the first person to compare it to walking back into the pages of the Bible or the Koran. Confusing alleyways are crowded with exotic people, occasionally animals, lots of colourful and ancient merchandise and the buzz of constant activity. It’s a world away from my modern, western hometown of Brisbane, Australia.

I was in Fez largely because of my friendship with ex-Brisbane journalists and authors Sandy McCutcheon and Suzanna Clarke. When my friend Meg and I decided we would finally tick the Moroccan ‘to do’ box after decades of talking about it, Sandy and Suzanna offered lots of friendly helpful advice.

It’s taken me about a year to distil the many colourful images and sensations from that trip before I could finally arrive at my own personal way of depicting Fez and the other Moroccan towns we visited.

I work in oils on canvas or board and my usual subjects are the streets of New York, London, Paris and the large bustling cities I encounter on my travels. I find that in each city my style changes slightly which is no doubt a response to the city itself. For example I hope in my New York paintings I capture something of that city’s incredible energy and drive while the Paris paintings are always my most ‘romantic’.

But how was I to portray Fez and the streets of Morocco unlike any other city or place I’ve visited?

After playing around with a few sketches and some small studies in oil, I found that in addition to the colours of Morocco, the rich shades of the rugs, the patina of the medina walls etc, I was using a lot more black as a base for the painting. Black is not usually a major colour on my palette. It’s clearly a response to the shadows, the nooks and crannies of the medina’s twisting seemingly endless laneways.

Shadow is clearly a visual metaphor for mystery and there’s a lot about these medinas that presents as a mystery…and even with Sandy’s incredibly helpful advice about how to get around, much of it still remains a mystery.

That’s the attraction for someone from the west where we are used to things revealing themselves almost immediately. In Fez’s case, it’s a mystery how a place like it exists at all in this fast-paced world. As you walk through the streets and laneways I couldn’t help thinking what lies behind those ancient crumbling stuccoed, brick and cement walls. What lies behind the shops covered in Moroccan rugs or brilliant brass lights, woodcraft and ceramics? What of the lives of the people whose ancestors have lived here for millennia?

There’s also that rich texture of surfaces, walls that have been constructed, repaired, stuccoed, painted and repainted over hundreds of years. No mere painting can capture that.

I don’t have any illusions about what I do as an artist. I can’t possibly answer all the questions about Fez in a few paintings. I paint pictures that I hope reflect my experience of a place. I hope I capture a moment or perhaps the atmosphere of a place or even just an impression. I don’t solve ancient riddles and unlike so many good people in the world, I’m not healing the sick or providing shelter for the homeless.

However, through the sale of my work, I hope I can do some good. That’s why I was delighted when Sandy and Suzanna suggested that a percentage of those sales could go to the medina’s children library.

Hopefully those who’ve been to Fez can relate to these paintings and just as hopefully, it will inspire people who’ve never been there to take the step.

Medina Streetscape. Oil on canvas 35x64cm. $1750

David Hinchliffe  trained under Brisbane artist, John Rigby, painting as a teenager with contemporaries Tomas McAulay and Rex Backhaus Smith and also studied under premier Australian landscape artist and Archibald prize-winner, William Robinson at the University of Southern Queensland.

David furthered his practical artistic study in both New York, Paris and London in the 70s while working his way around the world painting portrait commissions until he returned home to pursue a career in politics. He has painted portraits of Poet Bruce Dawe, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser and businessman, Sir Alex McKay.

The Carpet Shop.oil on board, 30x40cm. $1100

Described by the late James Gleeson as having an "exceptional talent",  David has emerged from 3 decades of work in the public domain to return with renewed passion to his career as a painter. He has exhibited at galleries in Brisbane and the Gold Coast as well as at Harrods in London and at Village Art gallery in Greenwich Village 1996, at the Australian Consulate, New York and at Michael Ingbar Gallery on Broadway in Soho, New York and in Paris.

Earlier this year David Hinchliffe had a remarkable sell out show at the Affordable Art Fair in New York. The New York art buyers fell in love with Davids works and according to Fair organisers the number of David Hinchliffe works sold this year, far exceeded any other artist at the New York Affordable Art Fair. In David's works "There were so many red dots it looked like we had the measles!"

Fez Medina #2. Oil on canvas 30x37cm . $950

Please note: the prices are quoted in Australian dollars. Readers of The View From Fez can purchase paintings by contacting us:

Find out more about the Medina Children's Library:  HERE

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