Maxwell Wilks “Modern Oil Impressionists” by Ron Ransom
…powerful slicing strikes of pastel, brilliant colour and energised movement, and alive gestural rendering of oil scenes typify his imaginative solutions to breathing new sensibilities into traditional representation.
Maxwell Wilks was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1944. After leaving Secondary School he worked in the Graphic Arts industry. Maxwell’s drawing training started at the Victorian National Gallery School under John Brack and Ian Armstrong. He also studied Commercial Design at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. When in his early 20’s he studied oil painting for a short time with artist Shirley Bourne. Maxwell was introduced to the theories of tonal impressionism and with his experience of drawing and design, and working with colour as a graphic artist, he found his background training was very helpful in formulating his ideas and style of painting. He was invited to join a group of artists who had similar theories and gained much from the freely exchanged ideas and the many stimulating hours spent painting together. This group was the “Seven Painters” and they exhibited together for about ten years before going their separate ways.
Maxwell had his first exhibition in 1974 and since then has held over 30 one-man exhibitions in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. He is represented at Jenny Pihan Fine Art year round with works in both oil and pastel.
Since 1979 Maxwell has been travelling and working overseas. In 1982 he won the AME Bale Art Travel Scholarship, which enabled him to live in England for eight months in 1983. He stayed in the Cotswolds, a beautiful area to paint and close enough to commute to London and the galleries. During this time he traveled to Europe visiting galleries and doing many paintings and drawings. In 1986 he traveled to Ireland to paint and the following year held an exhibition of those paintings depicting the Irish landscape and way of life. In 1988, 1990 and 1993 Maxwell was invited to lead study tours to France, Holland and England visiting all the major galleries and painting on location. After each tour he stayed on to paint and gather enough material for very successful exhibitions, which were held in Melbourne on his return. He has also enjoyed travelling and painting in Italy, France and the UK with artist friends.
A former respected tutor at the Victorian Artists Society, Maxwell now holds occasional workshop weekends for advanced landscape painters. For some years Maxwell was a Council member of the Victorian Artists Society in Melbourne. He has now been elected a Fellow of the Society. Maxwell is a member of the Twenty Melbourne Painters Society (he is also a past chairman of the Society) and member of the old Watercolour Society (Australia Branch).
Maxwell has won many awards for this art and is represented in private collections throughout Australia and in the UK, Germany USA, China and Japan. A number of Maxwell’s paintings have been purchased by major Corporations, various City Councils and the Commonwealth Government. Maxwell has chosen to follow the representational style of painting because of his strong emotional response to the effects of light, colour, atmosphere and form. In the tradition of Australian Landscape artists, he usually paints directly from his subject. As a consequence, his painting is able to observe, select and clarify the subject to a simple set of tonal shapes, which are then combined with colour and good draughtsmanship to capture the mood and sensitivity of the subject. His main influence is the exciting works by the French Impressionists such as Monet, Pissarro, Manet and Sisley, who leave the viewer completely absorbed in the mood of each scene by capturing a fleeting moment in time. Whistler, Sargent and Sickert also provide inspiration because of their creative skills in handling their medium and their exciting choice of subject matter.
He is represented in:
“Australian Impressionist & Realist Artists” compiled by Tom Roberts
“Artists and Galleries of Australia & New Zealand” by Max Germaine
“A Gallery of Marine Art” by Rockport Publications
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