Roger Kemp, Untitled, 1935-40. Oil on card, 81 x 110cm. Courtesy: the artist and Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne.
Roger Kemp‘s paintings of the late 1930s form a small but coherent body of work – one as forward looking and exploratory as any of his Australian contemporaries. Yet, with the brief exception of a few shown in the extensive, five-gallery retrospective curated by Patrick McCaughey in 1978 they have remained virtually unknown.
This exhibition, focussing on his first 30 years, briefly maps the steadily diminishing presence of the visible outside world in Kemp’s paintings – and the equally determined exploration of forms.
He practised what some have termed “transcendental abstraction” and others “symbolic abstraction”. In this world, forms don’t have meaning in the sense that words have meaning (and definition). Rather, they suggest, via the relationships between the forms, an order or harmony which, being abstract, can never be physically depicted, only evoked.
Exhibition opens: 4–6pm Saturday 7 September 2019