The silent paintings of Ian Parry

Ian Parry’s art is an incisive complication of the term ‘abstract’. While the Tasmanian artist has described his approach as such—clearly seen through his use of amorphous shapes, swelling patterns and juxtaposition of colour—Parry’s paintings are foremost an interpretation of environment. The artist, who is a descendent of seafarers, renders impressions of the ocean and sky; the horizon is often integral.

“These paintings continue to look at water and sky, the intangible and shifting elements,” says Parry of his latest exhibition at Colville Gallery. “They are painted in the southernmost region of Tasmania, which is more an event than a landscape—a silent movie free of the chattering of humanity.”

Parry sees his work in a tradition of “silent paintings”, citing the influence of Australian artists Clarice Beckett and David Davies, as well as French artist Jean- Francois Millet and German artist Caspar David Friedrich. “I grew up in [Clarice] Beckett country,” he says, referring the Bayside area of Victoria, “and as a very young painter, I lived through her eyes.” He also uses the term “slow painting” to describe the delicate and meditative unfolding of his oil paintings.

Ian Parry, quite early one morning, 92 x 107cm.

Over his long career, Parry’s work has been procured by several major Australian public collections, as well as the prestigious Phillips Collection in Washington, DC. His art can be summarised as a combination of imagination, sensibility and memory, inspired by travels around his region, bringing back nature’s aesthetic cues to his studio shed in the rural town of Gardners Bay—where a process of abstraction takes place.

“I do not work en plein air—more by the absorption method; these roamings supply my visual diet with at least a tonal naturalism.”

New Works
Ian Parry
Colville Gallery
11—31 July

This article was originally published in the July/August 2023 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Barnaby Smith