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— Biography of Roger Kemp

After completing three years of study at the National Gallery of Victoria's School of Painting, Roger Kemp remained aloof from the art world for a decade, troubled by the vitriolic reaction of conservative creative circles to the new concepts of abstraction and artistic experiment.  His paintings from this time were smaller scale and landscape and figure based, before becoming more abstracted and symbolic, inspired by modern music and dance.  In 1944 he held his first solo show at Velasquez Gallery in Melbourne - at that stage the only gallery that would exhibit modern art.  An exceptionally high number of inclusions in major group shows through the 1950s established Kemp's name among the great modern Australian painters.  During this time, painting in enamel on masonite, his work moved towards  non-objective abstraction, whilst tying in symbolic uses of colour and composition.  In 1970, at age 62 - his reputation at its height - the Kemp family moved to London.  There he produced a major series of small scale pastel and ink drawings, and shared a studio with Bridget Riley and Peter Upward where he began painting on paper on a large scale, employing the 'all-over' composition he is best known for today.  Kemp remained an active, productive and respected artist and teacher in Melbourne until his death in 1987, being awarded an OBE and installing four monumental tapestries of his paintings in the Great Hall of the National Gallery of Victoria, where they remain today below Leonard French's stained glass ceiling.

Major Publications:
Christopher Heathcote, A Quest for Enlightenment: The Art of Roger Kemp, Macmillan, Melbourne, 2007
Hendrik Kohlenberg, Roger Kemp - the complete etchings, Art Gallery of NSW, 1991

Since its establishment in 1984, the Charles Nodrum Gallery’s exhibition program embraces a diversity of media and styles - from painting, sculpture & works on paper to graphics and photography; from figurative, geometric, gestural, surrealist & social comment to installation & conceptually based work.