From the South China Sea to Moreton Bay
Cairns-born painter Joe Furlonger first commenced exhibiting in 1984 in Brisbane with large paintings of fishermen working in the waters off the remote northern tip of Queensland. His predominantly figurative works from this period depict middle distance seascapes as a backdrop to his experiences as a worker on deck. Initially well known for beach scenes of surfers and bathers, religious depictions of the Madonna and Child and circus scenes, his imagery became increasingly focused on his relationship with the South East Queensland landscape.
After a brief visit to China, Hong Kong and the bays behind Macau, following a prolonged stay in Vietnam, Furlonger painted his Rainy Days on Moreton Bay suite of vertical scenes in the Chinese traditional landscape manner. This was a watershed exhibition in which his prior predominant use of oils gave way to a far subtler use of raw pigment bound in acrylic, applying thin layers of colour like washes of ink on paper. This method would stay with Furlonger through regular triumphant Australian landscape shows including a splendid series, Moree, a town he visited with Chinese ink master and friend, Li Jin. After two decades showing regularly in Australia and abroad, Furlonger joined two other Brisbane artists, Jun Chen and Ian Smith in an exhibition at the Guan Shanyue Art Museum in Shenzen, opened by Ambassador Geoff Raby in 2007.
This current project, presented specially for The Task Ahead is a series of seascapes informed by recent travels to the port of Gladstone, long years of visual memory of Moreton Bay, reminiscences from China and the images that filled newspapers and televisions throughout recent years of Australian Destroyers, US Frigates and other participants in the freedom of navigation exercises that made the press. A submarine has appeared for the first time in the wake of the AUKUS announcement.
The art of Joe Furlonger will be exhibited in a solo show at the Queensland Art Gallery, 27 August 2022 – 29 January 2023.