The Ancient Alchemy of Jack Lanagan Dunbar

Jack Lanagan Dunbar is a young, Sydney-based artist who explores the various mediums of art through tactile experiments in his artworks which feel like they have been unearthed from the ruins of Pompei.

Jack Lanagan Dunbar, COMA Gallery, Prometheus

The artist recently won the 2019 Brett Whiteley Travelling Art Scholarship for his work, Pantheon, which takes from Greek mythology and legendary figures of antiquity. Lanagan Dunbar applied patina, acrylic paint, vinyl-based paint, chinagraph and lacquer on copper sheet which gives the artwork a relic aura of preservation.

Perfectly so for the antique-inspired artist, the travelling scholarship includes a three-month residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, set up by Brett Whiteley’s mother who understood the profound effect of Whiteley’s own experience in Europe. Lanagan Dunbar will receive $40,000 funding to further an art education while overseas.

Guest judge, artist Gemma Smith, confirmed the influence of Europe on the young artist’s work, commenting, “[his work is] full of allusions to classical mythology whilst simultaneously caught up in the moment.” She adds, “the result is fascinating and alchemical… I’m sure that an extended period in Europe will have an extraordinary and ongoing impact on his work.”

Copper, steel, timber, paper and clay appear throughout his artworks, which Lanagan Dunbar describes as vignettes – moments of time, brief expressions of ideas. History and memory reveal discrepancies of time in deliberate mark-making that juxtaposes a tenderness.

The artist took himself on an art trip in 2017 to Europe where he used only a pencil and a notepad to record the goings-on around him, the memories of time still etched into the buildings around him. The trip gave him further frameworks to play with archaeological findings and ancient fables within the context of his work.

Lanagan Dunbar interprets the constructs of, what he calls, “the ancient, pan-cultural tradition of storytelling.” Within this idea, the artist hopes to convey a circular sense of narrative from art history and cultural artefacts to the modern materials he uses in his artworks. “If you’re lucky, go on to eventually produce a world,” Lanagan Dunbar responds tothe ideas of storytelling in art — collecting a visual account, that extends from canvases to found objects.

Head over to COMA Gallery 71/73 Stanley St Darlinghurst for more info on Jack Lanagan Dunbar, then pop into the Lankan Filling Station for a hearty Sri Lankan feed,58 Riley St