Bright couple 

• One of the works in the exhibition Luminous Pursuit.

AFTER knocking down nearly all the internal walls in their Fremantle house, arty couple Richard and Yoshiko Gunning were inspired to create works that reflected the light flooding through their home.

Drawing on Yoshiko’s Japanese heritage, they divided the space with screens and were captivated by the reflections and soft, diffuse colours.

The end result was Luminous Pursuit, a collection of paintings and works that provide an intimate and at times voyeuristic glimpse into the couple’s life.

“I have always painted my immediate surrounds so the domestic space is a natural subject,” Richard says.

“I see this as also connecting to a longer painting tradition of artists who celebrate the domestic and every day such as Chardin, Matisse and Bonnard.

“The screens and reflections lend themselves to interesting compositional ideas for paintings.”

Intimate doesn’t always mean small, and one of the most striking pieces in the exhibition is a 1.8 x 2.4m room divider on which Richard painted someone making a meal in the kitchen and Yoshiko doing her hair in the bedroom.

It’s a cute snapshot of domestic life – like your peeping through the keyhole – and the angled dividers create a mysterious depth, almost like reality is bending back on itself.

“Fortunately Yoshiko and I currently have a studio at the Fremantle Arts Centre as part of the artist in residence program,” Richard says.

“This has allowed us to work on a much more ambitious scale; I for example have painted a screen room divider and Yoshiko has created her light installation there.”

• One of the works in the exhibition Luminous Pursuit.

After graduating with a BA in Fine Art from WAIT (now Curtin University) in 1981, Richard went on to become a big name in the WA art scene in the 1980s and 1990s, renowned for his figurative paintings.

He has works in all of the major collections in WA including the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Fremantle Art Collection, UWA, the Westfarmers Collection and the Holmes a Court Collection.

In recent years Richard has concentrated more on teaching fine art in places like Fremantle Arts Centre and Curtin University, but Luminous Pursuit has got his creative juices flowing again.

“I have reduced my work load to allow myself more time to paint, hopefully this should mean that I shall exhibit on a more regular basis than I have in the past several years or so,” he says.

Yoshiko, a visual artist known for her pastel self-portraits and interior works, has recently got into floristry, which is reflected in her delicate and wispy pieces for the exhibition.

“I have always been attracted to the beauty of flowers and grew up in a culture that placed high importance on them and their presentation,” she says.

“I recently studied floristry and work in that industry. It seemed a natural progression to combine my visual art practice which has been concerned with composition and light, and floristry. Flowers for me are emblems of the beauty that can be found in the natural world.”

Luminous Pursuit is at Nyisztor Studio at 391 Canning Highway in Melville from October 30 – November 14.

By STEPHEN POLLOCK

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