Roger Kemp is recognised as one of Australia’s great innovators in the field of abstract art. He was a unique and enigmatic artist, different from almost all others of his generation. His interest was not in the overriding traditions of figurative and landscape art, nor the prevailing trends in non-objective art, but rather something much deeper and more metaphysical. Kemp’s concerns were ‘to make visible the invisible’.
Roger Kemp: Visionary Modernist is the first major exhibition to chart the development of Kemp’s extraordinary career, beginning with his earliest paintings of symbolic landscapes and angular dancing figures, through his work of the 1950s – where the human form is transfigured and becomes part of an abstract structure – to his late works which reveal an artist whose concerns go beyond the physical world.
In Kemp’s later works – highly resolved paintings of the 1960s, 70s and 80s – the geometric structure heightens the symbolic richness contained within. Kemp’s works from this period are charged with great emotional energy and are the pinnacle of an artistic and spiritual journey.
Roger Kemp: Visionary Modernist has been developed in close association with the estate of the artist. Comprising paintings, prints and sketches, it is the most comprehensive retrospective of this significant artist’s work since Kemp’s death in 1987.
The NGV is publishing a monograph to coincide with the exhibition that features the artist’s work and new scholarship from Australian experts.
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