Robert Malherbe

Photography by Ona Janzen

Robert Malherbe’s long and self-imposed apprenticeship, driven by his passion for painting is paying off. The artist’s training has been the first-hand contemplation of master works in the galleries of Europe, and has provided him with invaluable insights into the craft of painting that he now determinedly applies to his own practice. Looking to predecessors like Corot, Constable and Manet, Malherbe aims to represent the essential truth of his subject, and to realise the inherent relationships between the subject, the artist and the viewer.

Malherbe primarily works ‘alla prima’, which is a direct painting technique where a work is completed in one session, often by applying wet paint in layers. He thereby eschews the convenience of photography, instead working from life to capture the subtle revelations and feelings of immediacy imparted by the painted or drawn gesture; from the sensuality of the natural environment to the intimate landscape of the human form. With confident brushstrokes and a reductive approach to colour, Malherbe extols the simple perfection of a moment and offers it up for our contemplation.

Malherbe emigrated to Australia from Mauritius as a young boy. He worked as an animator before spending a decade traveling and living in Europe. Malherbe was awarded the NSW Parliament Plein Air Painting Prize (2016) and won the Manning Art Prize (2015). He has exhibited extensively in Australia and has been a regular finalist in prestigious prizes, including the Archibald Prize, the Wynne Prize, the Mosman Art Prize, the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize and the Kilgour Art Prize.

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