Important Australian + International Fine Art
28 April 2010

Philip Wolfhagen

born 1963

oil and wax on linen

142.0 x 231.0 cm

signed and dated lower right with artist's monogram, signed with initial and dated lower right: W. 94, inscribed verso: PHILIP WOLFHAGEN /EIGHTH PASSAGE 1994 / ...

$40,000 - 60,000
Sold for $69,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 14 - 28 April 2010, Melbourne

Sherman Galleries, Sydney (label attached verso)
Private collection, United Kingdom


Local Philanthropy: Gifts and Loans of Australian Paintings and Sculpture, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, 30 July 2005 – 16 July 2006

Catalogue text

'These are paintings not only about the love of nature but the nature of love.'1

Philip Wolfhagen is quintessentially a painter of the Australian landscape who has a fascination with the Tasmanian terrain. As a surveyor of the land, he traces personal origins and blends life experiences via wax and oil onto canvas. An attunement to memory and inquisition allow Wolfhagen to harness an emotive energy that intertwines life with nature in a poetic gesture.

Wolfhagen has earned a highly regarded position in the history of Australian art. His outstanding paintings keep alive the tradition of landscape painting as immortalised by British Romanticists Constable and Turner, while at the same time transposing it into a twenty-first century idiom.

Indeed, ideas of the sublime and the romantic are at once embraced yet also challenged within Wolfhagen's work. It is his quest to embark upon universal truths as larger questions regarding existence and the brevity of human life are pondered through the depiction of exterior light and space.

Employed with a palette knife, the pigmented wax Wolfhagen uses holds a distinct lush materiality. As in Eighth Passage 1994, Wolfhagen's choice of colours often includes steely grey-greens, pinks and purples, and smoky blue-greys. Here the outline of the rugged Tasmanian coastline appears misty, soft and muted, creating a captivating and moody visage. The deliberate blurring gives an illusory sense of underexposure, leaving the vaguest impression of the scene. Wolfhagen's practice therefore becomes a synthesis of his experiences.

This painting can be viewed as a continuous majestic and soothing panorama, as the open view of the horizon line encourages a sense of expansiveness. Wolfhagen has successfully captured a fleeting moment that conveys a deep experience and enduring engagement with the land.

In Eighth Passage the notions of the spiritual and essential are skilfully suggested. A melancholy sentiment and ethereal beauty is conveyed. Free of artifice and confusion, these paintings convey an intensity of pleasure and immediacy of vision.

1. Timms, P., Philip Wolfhagen: the inner edge, Sherman Galleries, Sydney, 2004