Jeff Makin’s exhibition Eighty Years at James Makin Gallery marks the artist’s 80th birthday and over 60 years of his painting career. We are proud to present a major retrospective of the artist’s work, presenting new paintings, as well as seminal works from the artist’s vast oeuvre – works released for acquisition for the first time.
Makin’s work has long explored the picturesque and the sublime in nature, rooted in a specifically Australian locality. Makin has visited many Australian landmarks throughout his career, in search of capturing those intangible qualities that form the essence of the land. Following this, much of Makin’s work is painted in the plein air tradition. In a career that has been dedicated to capturing the vastness of Australia’s varying terrain, his work invariably succeeds in its depiction of the genius locus, or ‘spirit of place’.
Makin is one of Australia’s leading landscape artists and one of the few surviving artists from a close cohort of painters including Fred Williams, John Olson, Ian Armstrong and Clifton Pugh. The importance of Jeff Makin’s work to the vibrant history of Australian landscape painting has been recognised with the monograph Australia Felix: Landscapes by Jeffrey Makin, published in 2002. The monograph is a celebration of the artist’s practice by acclaimed art writer Jenny Zimmer and includes an introductory letter by John Olsen – a long time peer and friend of Makin. Jeff Makin is represented in all national, state and most regional and corporate collections in Australia. In 2007 a boutique hotel in Melbourne was named in his honour. Alongside his artistic career, Makin has held numerous senior academic appointments and influenced many of the next generation of landscape painters, such as the late Phillip Hunter. Makin was also the senior art critic for the Herald Sun for almost thirty years, with his writing from this time collated and published in the book Critical Moments: Essays and Reviews on Art in Australia published by MacMillan in 2011.
Jeff Makin’s eclectic and picturesque studio is situated in his family home, a converted 1850s dancehall, based in central Victoria, where he continues to paint, immersed in the Australian landscape he has dedicated his career to.