The scarred couch, the Auckland experience by Philip Clairmont

The scarred couch, the Auckland experience, 1978, by Philip Clairmont.

Clairmont was born in 1949 and took his own life in 1984. He attended Ilam School of Fine Art and graduated with honours in painting. While studying in Canterbury, Clairmont was taught by a diverse group of painters, including Don Peebles, Doris Lusk and Rudolf Gopas. Fellow artists Tony Fomison and Philip Trusttum reinforced the expressionistic tendencies Clairmont had developed before he started art school.

Clairmont typically drew his subject matter from his domestic surroundings. Everyday objects assume a life of their own and take on anthropomorphic, often menacing, qualities. Expressive, gestural brushwork and sharp angular forms add to the tension created in this work.

Clairmont was influenced by German expressionism, which used sharp, angular treatment of form, elongated figures, and bright, discordant colour to create feelings of alienation and anxiety in the viewer. Clairmont was also influenced by the grotesque, threatening images of the Anglo-Irish painter Frances Bacon – and by his commitment to painting as a way of life.

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