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Ian North

Throughout his career as an artist, curator and academic, Ian North has produced a large and diverse body of work. The landscape is a recurring theme in North’s artistic practice. North’s Pseudo Panoramas, for which he became well known in the mid to late 1980s, invoke canonical images from the history of ‘western’ art and panoramic Australian landscapes. Two coloured landscapes are juxtaposed and overlapped with a photographic reproduction of a painting from 19th century Romanticism. In Pseudo Panorama V (1985), George Stubbs’ spaniel appears lost and alienated as it looks back at us from the vast Australian outback.

North’s commission for the University of Melbourne’s Department of Philosophy, The World is All that is Not the Case (2005), similarly brings together a variety of visual elements. This large-scale work combines traditions of portraiture, landscape, painting and photography to comment on the history and ambitions of philosophy.

North is a pioneer of the use of colour photography in Australian art photography, and adopted it as his principal medium in 1979. Canberra Suite is a series of 24 coloured photographs that North produced in 1980-81, but did not exhibit in full until 2005. These images of houses, fields, fences and roads in and around Canberra are eerily devoid of human presence, and resonate with much contemporary photographic practice where there is a preoccupation with empty spaces, the everyday and the imbrication of urban and natural environments.