Wayne Eager is a gestural artist, absorbed with form, colour and texture. His method is based on the accretion of subsequent layers from which his paintings find their form. Compositions are built from fragments and structures that evolve over time. Colour is intensified or modulated from one session to the next, so the viewer is able to trace the narrative through gestures and the accumulation of layers of paint. Eager’s paintings oscillate between intense working and loose simplicity, to create a fresh vision of the NT landscape that acknowledges Indigenous sovereignty and is built on the artist’s profound understanding of modernism.
His work has the integrity of an artist whose life has been devoted to discovering the purity of painting.
“My paintings are arrived at through a distillation process of a series of overlaid marks and shapes. In the 1990s I was more interested in a depiction of the landscape surrounds, whilst now the paintings are more non-representational (abstract) although the basic inspiration remains the central desert landscape, where I live.
Most of my influences remain to be from the modernist era: Picasso, Klee, Matisse, Cobra, and abstract expressionism. From Australia I admire the work of Ian Fairweather and Tony Tuckson. More recently, the diverse range of paintings coming out of the Aboriginal communities around Australia are a huge inspiration.”
– Wayne Eager 2019
In 2021 Eager was honored by a 30-year survey exhibition Bitumen and Dirt, which opened at the Charles Darwin University Gallery, Darwin then travelled to the Araluen Art Centre in Alice Springs. To celebrate this exhibition an accompanying catalogue was published titled Wayne Eager and this represents works from the early Roar days to the present.
Eager was a founding member of the dynamic artist-run-exhibiting space ROAR STUDIOS in Fitzroy, Melbourne, the first such venture in Australia. His early works were exhibited there in 1982. ROAR STUDIO’s contribution to the revival of Australian painting has been the subject of three texts which all recognize Eager’s role in its development. The ROAR artists’ medium of choice was paint and they used it in a ”raw” and primitive style. They were railing against the hard-edged abstraction, minimalism and conceptualism of the times, and were ”roaring” against the art establishment. Eager first saw art from the Northern Territory when the Papunya Tula paintings were exhibited in Melbourne in the 1980s at Gabrielle Pizzi’s early shows at ROAR STUDIOS. In 1992 Eager moved to Haast’s Bluff and was instrumental in establishing the Ikuntji Art Centre in 1992.
Wayne Eager has mentored First Nations through workshops in remote art centers and his work as a field worker for Papunya Tula Artists spans over three decades and includes the crucial years from 1996 when the female artists from Kintore and Kiwirrkurra started painting regularly. He mentored many emerging indigenous artists in SA and WA through his employment by the art centers in these regions over the last two decades.
Australian Galleries is delighted to announce we will be exhibiting a selection of paintings by this highly accomplished artist in our upcoming exhibition ‘Abstraction & Bronze’.
This show will run from 8-26 March in Melbourne.
Wayne Eager will be having a solo exhibition in the Stock Rooms gallery from 5-30 April. Please email enquiries@auatraliangalleries.