William Breen's paintings can be generally divided into two main themes of urban and rural landscapes. William is preoccupied with light, and its effects on these landscapes. He describes his paintings as being moments of “clarity, suspended in time and space, projected upon an emotive, urban landscape.” These urbanscapes have a beautiful diffused light, where everything is in sun drenched soft focus. William carefully selected unusual locations in Perth and Fremantle to paint. These are shop facades and walls that we pass regularly, yet it is their unobtrusiveness, their everyday nature that William finds beguiling and seductive. They include Crackel for Tackle, situated across from the Perth train station, Wildflowerfactory, located in Fremantle, and Massage specialist, an old Chinese herbalist storefront on Newcastle Street in the city.
William stated; "I am attracted to the urban landscape... because I can identify with and personify myself in it. It is also an excellent vehicle to project my subject matter, shadows and light, which create the mood of the paintings, giving them personality. I try to create a seductively, meditative stillness, and contrast this with orchestrated utopian colour harmonies creating a kind of musical silence, a melancholy bliss. I like to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary, something beyond reality. Create something beautiful from something banal."
These urban landscapes will be contrasted with a series of contemplative rural landscapes that are dwarfed by clouded Victorian skies. Two verge on being abstract interpretations of clouds, or hills viewed through thick mist. They are an important addition to the exhibition, as they represent some of the dualities and contradictions that William finds intriguing: Individual / Universal, Romantic / Clinical, Classical / Contemporary, Figurative / Abstract, Melancholic / Inspiring, Static image / Changing reality.
William graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts in 1992. He held his first solo exhibition in 1997 and since 2001 has been exhibiting with Flinders Lane Gallery in Melbourne, who represent him. This is his seventh solo exhibition. His paintings can be found in several collections, including Artbank, National Australia Bank, Loyola College, La Trobe University, and the Smorgan Collection.
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