Kevin Lincoln: The Eye’s Mind

Kevin Lincoln is an artist whose work holds the right kind of attention. The quiet, self-effacing artist has had an impressive career that is not widely known, yet he holds a high level of respect within the art industry. Meditative and nuanced, his enigmatic works are marks of an impressive practice that has helped shaped Australian art today. Recognising this, the survey show, ‘Kevin Lincoln: The Eye’s Mind’, covering twenty-five years of the artist’s practice, is the largest solo exhibition that the Art Gallery of Ballarat has ever presented.

Curated by Elizabeth Cross, the survey show will display 140 of Lincoln’s works since the 1990s. A long time friend, Cross has an enduring respect for Lincoln’s practice, “There is a quiet brooding thoughtfulness that is very affecting when you come close to the works. He has not been a household name and I think that has something to do with his quietness and modesty.” Exploring into the “eye’s mind” of Kevin Lincoln, the exhibition aims to enlighten audiences of the intriguing, humanistic vision of the introverted artist.

Thematically informed, the exhibition divides into Lincoln’s key areas of landscape, still life, abstraction and self-portraiture. For Cross, the self-portraits together reveal insights of the enigmatic artist’s development, “There is something to be said for seeing those self-portraits together, and the various manifestations of the self in those are fascinating.”

An artist who has had little formal training, an array of influences inspire Lincoln’s highly individual practice. The artist’s studio is his own cabinet of curiosities – a collection of animal skulls, cabinets full of exquisite Japanese Saki cups and tea bowls and African masks – all of which feed the contents of his paintings. The imagery in his still life and larger triptychs are intriguing insights into these collections and the man that owns them.

In fact the restraint and balance within his works could be seen as having a shared sensibility to the Japanese aesthetics. Alongside Lincoln’s use of Japanese ceramics and triptychs in his paintings, Cross adds, “it worked because he in a way had arrived at similar solutions himself – the sparseness and the flattening out of imagery, the reduction of detail in the interest of an overall abstract composition have a strong resonance with Japanese art.”

With an eye for exploring form and surface, Lincoln moves easily between the tensions of representation and abstraction. His practice bridges the gap, linking the tradition of representation in Western art, and modernism’s demand for a strong abstract composition and focus upon the surface of a painting.

Whilst contemplative and considered, Lincoln’s practice is diverse in its range of moods at play. The exhibition displays the range from brooding landscapes to witty still lifes, as Cross notes “knives are placed next to fish as if something nasty is about to happen to the fish, or a lemon with a lustrous dimpled surface-like flesh sits next to a sheer bottle. These are beautifully painted things that sharpen your vision and are a delight to see.”

Poised, balanced and reflective, ‘Kevin Lincoln: The Eye’s Mind’ invites the viewer to see the expanse of Lincoln’s rich contribution to the art world.

Art Gallery of Ballarat
Until 19 June, 2016