Greg Wood is concerned with the void above the earth. His visceral approach heightens the sense of insubstantiality, and the immaterial. Like all his works, painting shows no evidence of human habitation – we might be observing a primeval scene where humans have yet to evolve. In pining for a lost world, Wood evokes a kind of pre-loved world – a transitional state in which a new cosmology is being formed.
Wood is drawn to decidedly moody atmospheric conditions – more English than Australian and characterised by dense, heavy fog and vaporous chills. The scale of many of his works immerses us within their mournful shrouds and we are led to an empirical rendering of the earth and sky, the devout aura cannot fail to be registered. These are images of deep longing that, in their focus on the heavens and the immaterial, facilitate a spiritual transcendence into the beyond. Substance becomes mutable, and we are made to feel forces and emotions that have nothing to do with topography.
While each of Wood’s works speaks of similar sensations – of loss, longing and transcendence – each is unique. The subtle, barely discernible shifts in the leaden, corrosive atmosphere remind us, of Constable, who declared that ‘No two days are alike, not even two hours; neither were there ever two leaves alike since the creation of the world’. In calling to mind these sentiments, Wood reinstates the magic in everyday moment. He seeks to express, as he says, ‘How it makes you feel when you’re in this void.’ His sublime is not one of terror or turmoil, but of a quiet, contemplative state in which the wonders of the empirical world open up to reveal the plaintive majesty that surrounds us, intoxicating us, if only we develop the nuance to discern it.
Greg Wood notes: ‘The landscapes that I choose to paint are the ordinary places often in between destinations, the overlooked places. I am drawn to these landscapes when they are being engulfed and dominated by the elements. All my paintings are named from actual places, but the paintings themselves become a combination of my memory, experience and documentation.’
Words by Simon Gregg, New Romantics, Darkness and Light in Australian Art, 2011.
Greg Wood has been an active landscape painter since the mid-90s. This has enabled him to live for a period in Tasmania, travel to Vietnam and Japan and undertake a residency in Brussels. Wood’s work has been included in several important Australian award exhibitions including the John Glover Prize, Tattersalls Prize, Fleurieu Peninsula Biennale Art Prize and Kate Derum Award. Wood’s work is part of important private and public collections, including the Joyce Nissan and Peter Mac Art Collections.