• Andrew McIlroy

‘Where land ends’: Chris Langlois at Olsen Gallery, Sydney 2022



Australia’s south eastern coastline offers some of the most pristine beaches, sparkling ocean pools and sweeping vistas stretching far into the Tasman Sea.


And while Chris Langlois in the past did not have to stray far from his home on Sydney's northern beaches to find inspiration for his paintings, the artist’s move north to Newcastle where he once attended art school, with its sharper light and more defined ocean drifts has given the artist’s oeuvre new dimension.


Not that the prodigious Langlois has ever held back; the longstanding popularity of his paintings attesting to his determination to make good, fresh, thought-filled pictures.


But Langlois unashamedly admits this is not something that comes easily.


Chris Langlois, 'Littoral Zone 8' (2022) Photo: Olsen Gallery

Chris Langlois, 'Littoral Zone 9' (2022) Photo: Olsen Gallery


However, Langlois’ discomfort intuitively brings to his painting a relentless search for truth and beauty, placing his oeuvre unapologetically within the tradition of Romanticism, an artistic movement some academic circles feel is best consigned to the past.


But Langlois is among a group of prominent Australian artists such as painters Kathryn Ryan, Louise Hearman and Tony Lloyd, and photographers Bill Henson and Jane Burton leading a resurgence of neoclassical ideas and melancholic, naturalistic and atmospheric composition in contemporary art. (Simon Gregg, ‘New Romantics: Darkness and Light in Australian Art’, 2011)


The diffused light of Sydney’s Avalon Beach with its outlook to an unreachable horizon has long inspired Langlois’ subdued palette; his exquisitely rendered clouds seemingly capable of dissolving and reforming; and land masses that hold stubbornly within the frame, combine to bring an emotional depth and complexity to perhaps an otherwise still scene.


Chris Langlois, 'Tasman Sea 3' (2022) Photo: Olsen Gallery

Chris Langlois, 'Tasman Sea 2' (2022) Photo: Olsen Gallery

Chris Langlois, 'Tasman Sea 6' (2022) Photo: Olsen Gallery


Langlois' thought-line culminates, perhaps unconsciously as the artist wholly immerses himself in the act of painting in his Newcastle studio, in a familiar representation of the ephemeral nature of humankind, highlighting our vulnerability and anxieties in an uncertain, changing world – an idea hardly far from our present-day reality.


Langlois’ aesthetically pleasing paintings however do not end here. His works are simultaneously redemptive, spiritually and psychologically uplifting and refreshingly optimistic, propelling us beyond land’s end into a state of wonder, and without any hint of kitsch - a deliverance to be particularly admired in today’s art world.


 


Installation shot, Chris Langlois exhibition photo: Olsen Gallery

Installation shot, Chris Langlois exhibition photo: Olsen Gallery

Installation shot, Chris Langlois exhibition photo: Olsen Gallery


When & Where:

‘Chris Langlois: Where land ends’ runs till 27 August at Olsen Gallery, 63 Jersey Road, Woollahra NSW 2025 t: (02) 9327 3922


About the author:

Andrew McIlroy is an artist and arts writer, living and working in Melbourne, Australia