“I’m really an expressionist”

“I’m really an expressionist”
Rhonda Dredge

It’s difficult to grab hold of the narrative and people’s attention, even for a short time in the busy city.

Kristian Shaw managed the feat when his exhibition of striking monochrome paintings opened at One Star.

He looked like a showman conjuring the oil on masonite out of the ether.

But as Paintings, the title of the exhibition demonstrates, this is old-school work built up over time.

Kristian is not giving anything away about the meaning of the exhibition. That is in the eye of the observer.

What he can say is that the layers of the mostly square, blueish, and pinkish paintings were painted over “romantic clouds”.

In other words, they’ve been made from scratch instead of downloaded from Rothko and given a twist.

These are not colour field paintings to Kristian but exquisite landscapes. He can see mountains and fields where the viewer sees pure colour and a few textural gradations.

“I don’t think them through,” he said. “The colour has to make sense. I mix thalo blue, magenta and titanium white with a fat medium. I have to leave it for two months. I like the quality of the paint.”

He uses a couple of different blues and roses. On another painting he has applied a mix of Prussian blue, thalo, magenta and a dash of yellow as well as white with a finishing glaze of fat medium.

“I play around with the glazes. There are finished paintings underneath that leave a telltale mark.”

In one he sees a romantic 14th century landscape, in another, a harsh winter English sea and in a third, a doorway to the afterlife, which he calls “a soothing, calming, peaceful place.”

When you’re in the zone, it’s not about pleasing customers nor pandering to the neoliberal profit motive.


“I do what I want to do,” Kristian said. “It’s not complex. I don’t worry about trying to please people.” He said he loved Rothko and Turner. “Landscape could be deep space.”


Kristian still lives in St Kilda where he says there aren’t many small galleries left.

One Star is an old school gallery on Victoria St in West Melbourne with a director who knows the local art scene from the inside.

She curates two group shows a year and the list of artists is a who’s who of Melbourne talent. Where other galleries still follow a corporate model, One Star is intimate, local and approachable.

Kristian feels at home here. He’s never learned to drive and likes to walk around making observations.

“I walked here from South Melbourne,” he said. “I love the streets. I like to wander around. It’s good for you. I’m really an expressionist. Egon Schiele.”

His statement reads: “beauty and intensity of nature is primary in my thoughts and work. I try and keep it simple, keep it honest and true … colour, texture, form and resonance.”   

Paintings, Kristian Shaw, One Star, until September 17. •


Caption: Kristian Shaw at his show on Victoria St.

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