Category Archives: Paintings By Year


Having returned from living in Switzerland, and a divorce, I had no studio at the time in Australia, but was offered one in a wooden building with “tongue-in-groove” walls to which I stapled canvas (also being unable to afford or store “stretchers” in the short term). I was initially frustrated that the impression of the tongue-in-groove walls would persistently “show” through otherwise finished “botanical” works. I decided to just submit to it, and completed a series of tabletops in a vertical format like Chinese landscapes, working from the top of the canvas down the walls. Until I could afford the stretchers, some of the (more autobiographically interesting, in my opinion) paintings reveal the impression of the tongue-in-groove wooden walls on which they were made.  Richard Dunlop, 2000

“Art is a human activity consisting in this, that one consciously, by means of external signs passes on to others the feelings that one has lived through, so that other people are infected by these feelings but more importantly, experience them. It doesn’t happen often.” – Leo Tolstoy

“Paintings like Still Life with Pelican’s Head and Still Life of How to Start a War have a most mysterious and rare inner illumination, whereby you see into the picture plane.” – Adrian Ghenie

“A unique sense of place can still persist in the collective psyche of sprawling cities such as Brisbane. Brisbane is a state of mind as much as a place, and artists like Richard Dunlop are its guides.” Sue Smith Director University Collection UCQ


Richard Dunlop’s show at Ray Hughes Gallery gently envelopes you as you walk in, inducing a mild, pleasurable sensation of which Matisse might have approved. The overlay of lianas dividing the surface into Matissean arabesques works well, as do the fine lines etched into the leaves with a nail.” – Sebastian Smee, 1999

“Since 1992, I’ve strived to conceive images which I regard as a fresh contribution to the Australian landscape painting tradition, drawing on ‘Asian’ verticalised views of landscape rather than a rather hackneyed European panoramic view. So many of my pictures are intended to be ‘read’ from the bottom up, and with a tension between macro view and micro-details like the best of neo-Romantic painters or 19th century botanists. But it’s not an exclusive interest. I dislike artists that have as an overarching goal the creation of a strong ‘brand’ which taps some current fashion or pot of money. The best painters in history ignored that stuff, maintaining long-distance eyes both to the future and past. The sediments of time revealed their voices to be almost inadvertently distinctive of their age.” – Richard Dunlop, Catalogue for Hinterland, Ray Hughes Gallery, 1999

“Mondrian died in New York in 1944 at the age of seventy-four, before he could finish his Victory Boogie-Woogie. The highest price he ever received was $600 for Broadway Boogie-Woogie… Out of the exhibition of deKooning’s Women, only one or two sold, and those for around $1800. Pollock never enjoyed the sweet smell of success; an eighteen-foot painting called One was sold in 1952 for $8,000, which was to stand as the greatest amount we received for a Pollock during his lifetime.” – Sidney Janis, The Art Dealers

“A line that at once describes the image, also profoundly floats above the image, the eye constructing form and add detail, but the line continuing to live by its own rules.”Murray Bail

“I think of Richard’s early work as quintessentially “Queensland”. I cannot think of anyone who has captured Queensland better. You walk into one of Richard’s pictures from that period and you can sense your body dissolve into that hot tropical air of Queensland, remembering the heady summer scent of frangipani and gardenia.”Stephen Lees


“In his exhibition, ‘Lung Capacity’, Dunlop assembled literally hundreds of small canvasses in strict rows. Some of them were placed in an arbitrary sequence, while other small groupings were composed of very carefully placed sets of small painted works. Upon reflection the viewer had a sense of being surrounded and overwhelmed by the works. The gallery became the artist’s territory which is no mean feat at the best of times. Here the work owns the walls on which it is placed. The eye makes its own connections from one piece to the next and endless variations arise – endless possibilities occur.” – John Nelson

“I’ve just purchased Richard’s Night Garden: Rising Damp and the Promise of New Growth. It’s as powerful and brooding a painting as anything I’ve seen at any Biennale.” – Louise Mitchell, Director, Artspace, The Gunnery, 1997

Dunlop’s painting has always been intelligent and it has always had significant content. The viewer has to work harder to unearth his meaning. In their derivation and method, these are highly introspective images.” – Michael Richards, 1991

Richard Dunlop uses the domestic garden as an image for the interplay between the human impulse for orderly processes of control and classification, and nature’s inherently disorderly processes of development through trial and error. There are real species, contrived species, ambivalent species such as carnivorous plants, and ambiguous organisms whereby the evolutionary decision to be plant or animal has not yet been taken; all are linked together through networks of vines and tendrils which both connect and entrap.” – Leonie Stanford, 1996

“The gardener is someone who paints with forms. The excellent form produces a harmony of the faculties, which prompts us to label the garden beautiful.” – Emmanuel Kant

“To paint one must be alone. I cannot become involved with people. I paint for myself and have no sense of mission, nor do I feel any compulsion to communicate, though naturally I am pleased when it seems I have done so.” – Ian Fairweather



“I thoroughly enjoyed Richard Dunlop’s recent exhibition at your gallery. Dunlop’s growing achievement interpreting landscape has no real parallel among the work of his contemporaries, dealing as it appears to do with the stubbornly unfashionable subject of natural beauty converging subtly with environmental and broader moral concerns. I think his work will survive beyond the current fixation with the passing parade of narcissistic identity politics in which some artists opportunistically see a parade coming down the street and jump out in front. If anyone needed reminding of my favourite Keats quote “Beauty is truth, truth beauty – that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” – Professor Bernard Smith 1998

“Everything is collapsing and transforming deep inside the picture” – Per Kirkeby, 1998

“You make it look so easy” – Del Kathryn Barton, 1998

 “Painting is dead’’ – Paul Delaroche 1839 (long dead)

“My father was a bit of a beatnik and his favourite topic, almost his only topic, was the idea of the mind as a country you could develop, and develop, and build and build. My mother believed in the country of the heart. For me it’s the hand.” – Patti Smith

“Drawing is taking a line for a walk” – Paul Klee


If on the one hand Dunlop’s paintings are essentially handsomely composed planes of colour on canvas, on another, some of his works in the present show are as psychologically charged as a visionary landscape by Giorgio de Chirico or Yves Tanguy. Time and space have little reality in paintings which present almost surreal associations of images and ideas. Children’s toys, fish, vegetables, birds and kitchen utensils, the artist’s paintbrushes and the art works of friends and strangers, are all presented rising elusively from nebulous surrounds. These objects are spread before us as if in a land of dreams. – Sue Smith, 2001

“How can art keep you involved for 40 years? If it means something… Something quite new and authentic was flowering and you happened to be holding the hose… What price can you place on that?” – Ray Hughes 2001

“Don’t plant your bad days. They grow into weeks. The weeks grow and turn into months. Before you know it, you’ve got yourself a bad year.” – Tom Waits

“A cultured hand.” – Robert Hughes, 2001

“I see my life as entering and exiting a series of theatres. The ocean is a theatre, my studio is a theatre and my kitchen is a theatre filled with drama and intimacy and chaos. My input is found in these everyday theatres.” – James Drinkwater, 2019

“Dunlop’s work stands up well with a wide range of artists whose work resonates with his own free colourist style – from the sensuous, decorative painting of Matisse, William Scott and Brett Whiteley to the roughly applied brushstrokes of Philip Guston and Alberto Burri; from the playful wandering line of Paul Klee to the carefully modulated forms and inky backgrounds of Modigliani. Dunlop’s works range from claustrophobic biospheres of beautiful and menacing animals and plants to images of barren, dusty vistas containing vessels, utensils and art objects which emerge mysteriously from kitchen tables that morph into cabinets.”  Sue Smith


Dunlop strives for timelessness with his art. Each work resists periodisation by virtue of the sensation that its own image may not even belong to this or any other world; may exist above all for itself, or that its secrets will not be revealed lightly. Beyond the window of these paintings is a plane of consistency, where the one constant is the artist’s idiosyncratic coding of the infinite – light years away in our own back yard.” – Gilbert Meadowcroft, 2003


“Richard Dunlop is a contemporary Australian painter with a strong commitment to pursuing his own line of investigation. Working in long cycles spanning several years, he experiments with evolving theatres of imagery, using his formidable technical skills to tease out the visual and metaphorical nuances of forms and spaces. This results in luscious, fluid, evocative works that defy simple analysis. These paintings are clearly inventions, created at a remove from the actual specimens or locations, and yet they have the capacity to confound the viewer’s eye with a sense of familiarity and naturalness.” – Professor Mostyn Bramley-Moore, 2004

“Everything I know about how the art industry works I learnt not from art school but from talking to you for hours when your exhibitions were on in Sydney at Ray Hughes Gallery.” Ben Quilty 2004


Lyrical painter and philosophical dreamer, Richard Dunlop selects from his everyday environment particular objects, places and situations that intrigue him visually and that also carry the possibilities of symbolism. One is aware that the eye is always a motivating, controlling factor in Dunlop’s work. The visual excitement that the materials and elements of painting – gestural line, glowing colour and sumptuous surfaces – may directly express in them is, as he says, the integral issue in his art. The indivisibility of colour, space and gesture is stressed in each of his pictures and when they are seen in series, as in this exhibition, this feeling of interconnectedness increases, linking the paintings one to the other and creating an overall sense of the artist’s organic process.” – Sue Smith, 2005

“It is not a photographic space. It is a memory space, but one which is based on reality.” – Peter Doig, 2005

“Richard uses ancient glazing techniques to subtly expand the pictorial possibilities, and to be really open to what is going on within the abstraction of the picture plane. He comes up with all sorts of strange colour combinations you couldn’t possibly dream of in advance or even mix on a palette, because it has to happen within the chemical interaction of the glazes and the action of painting itself. It has to be done on the run, a dance with chance.”Stephen Lees


Richard Dunlop’s multi-layered paintings present themselves from several perspectives simultaneously. This skewing of perspective brings to mind, among other greats in Australian landscape painting, William Robinson and John Olsen, while repeated motifs seem to nod at the brilliance of Australia’s best indigenous painters. The Zen principles of Wabi/ Sabi are in abundant evidence. – Iain Dawson, 2006


Richard’s work exhibits a concentrated approach to developing an art practice, sustained over a long period. He has consistently carved a unique niche for his work – his painting practice contributes significantly to ongoing dialogues and discussions relevant to contemporary painting although he doesn’t subscribe to any one existing style or theoretical framework. He has developed a unique style while continuing to experiment and extend the boundaries of his own practice. If anything, Richard’s practice is innovative by virtue of its singular focus.” – Alison Kubler, 2007 

“Richard Dunlop’s multi-layered paintings present themselves from several perspectives simultaneously. Capturing the true beauty of organic chaos, Dunlop’s canvas could be painted from within, above or as a magnification of his beloved Australian natives. The skewing of perspective brings to mind, among other greats of Australian landscape painting, William Robinson and John Olsen, while repeated motifs seem to nod at the brilliance of Australia’s best indigenous artists.” – Iain Dawson (Tim Olsen Gallery Catalogue Essay) 2007

“Dunlop draws fresh attention to the overlooked and mundane while exploring themes of opulence, death, transcience, decadent excess and that most maligned and elusive quality, beauty. Undoubtedly, painting and beauty are both here to stay. Dunlop deals with these issues but he is clearly neither a slave to the past or present like the artists he admires, Ian Fairweather, Per Kirkeby, Neo Rauch, Morandi and Titian, for example.” – Professor Mostyn Bramley-Moore

“Unlike many artists who achieve early success, he did not settle into a safe, carefully constructed
manner that invited approval. He kept up the risk, the restlessness, the search for transcendence.”
Sebastian Smee 2007