Darwin-based artist Max Bowden paints heart-felt depictions of the Top End landscape, providing tangible insights into nature’s power in north Australian climates. Her paintings capture the dramatic atmosphere and moods that only the tropical north provides. Not only a depiction of her literal surroundings, Bowden draws upon the landscape as a motif to untangle the idiosyncrasies of human life and the habits of others. For Bowden, painting is a tool to understand and capture the emotional climate of her environment.
In her forthcoming exhibition at James Makin Gallery, Bowden introduces intimate interior scenes to her vocabulary of landscape and suburban scenes. This introduction is a step further inward to the artist’s articulation of emotion and place, seeing Bowden capture moments within her own home. Despite their direct, personal link to the artist, these scenes have an apparent universal domesticity to them, drawing viewers to consider, along with the landscape and the suburbs, their internal environment as a potent field of emotional metaphor.
Important to Bowden’s work is the visible presence of underpainting – in many works, this is prominent, glowing bright blue around the canvas’ edge, or in small moments upon it. For Bowden, this is an important aspect when capturing the emotional barometer of her landscapes. What the artist sees and experiences is only one reading in a moment in time, there is always something happening underneath and around it. What one sees as essential is not a definitive reading, it floats atop a vast and moving realm of experience. There is a shifting pendulum of experience: what you think you know, what actually is, and how your assumptions can impact perception. To Bowden, there is no set reality – it is a malleable surface, layered and shifting.
Max Bowden was born in Melbourne, Australia, and now lives and works in Darwin. She studied visual arts at the Central School of Art in Adelaide, receiving the school’s first scholarship. Bowden holds a Bachelor of Visual arts from Charles Darwin University and a Postgraduate Degree in Psychology. In 2022 Bowden won the Hadley’s Art Prize Residency. Her forthcoming exhibition at James Makin Gallery is the artist’s second major solo exhibition with the gallery, following a debut sell-out showing.