Geophonics is the term coined by Philip Hunter to articulate the concept of sounds which occur beyond the Earth’s familiar landscape. His paintings adopt this title to explore the imperceptible phonics of the earth, adding structure and rhythm to the landscapes of his oil paintings.
Whilst researching and drawing in Tasmania in 2013, Hunter encountered the geological phenomenon of ‘post-glacial rebound’; the rise of landmasses previously depressed by recent ice ages. This erupting of deep geological time became a resonating force in his sublime imaginings. Upon Hunter’s return to the studio his practice took an intriguing turn; the new works became relatively modest in scale.
In a recent conversation with Janet McKenzie for Studio International* (27 June 2016) Hunter compared his experience of internalising his encounter with monumental landscape to an experience of another artist’s work: very small painting by Jake Bertholt, a pocket book size picture that was a complex layering of different greys with some wonderful reds breaking through the field and also at the edges of the canvas – it seemed like I was looking at something almost infinite in its dimensions.
To Hunter, the sensation of vastness and the sublime is not confined by scale. In this instance it defies scale. The resulting paintings allow the viewer an experience of exploring the terrain not only for its geology but the resonance of the forces which created it, forces which still tremor beneath its surface.
Philip Hunter was born in the Wimmera District at Donald in 1958. He attended the Prahran College of Advanced Education from 1977-79, obtained a Master of Fine Art degree in 1995 from the Victorian College of the Arts and a Doctor of Philosophy from Deakin University in 1999. He has taught painting and drawing at a number of the nation’s most prominent art schools and has been the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships. His work is held in public, corporate and private collections in Australia and internationally.