Malcolm Carbins: Silent Depths
Paintings and Drawings 1947-2002
by Adam Dutkiewicz & Michele Klik
Moon Arrow Press 2009
ISBN: 9780977545544 (pbk)
72pp, 43 pages full colour,
280 x 200mm, lock bound softcover, 100mm flaps
80 illustrations, including 57 colour plates of original artworks
Limited edition of 250
Release date: 24 February 2010
Malcolm Carbins studied at the School of Fine Arts, North Adelaide, before and immediately after serving in World War Two, and at East Sydney Technical College. His exposure to a broader programme in his studies in Sydney opened his eyes to modernism in Europe and the vigour of post-war Australian painting on the east coast. During his time in Sydney he worked as a newspaper cartoonist and, around 1947, travelled with Wirths, Australia’s largest circus, drawing many of the clowns and performers. This became a mainstay of the first years of his practice, and the work for which he first received widespread recognition.
By 1954 his painting style had gravitated towards the abstract. His painting tended towards lyrical abstraction modelled on the landscape, in similar fashion to Australian painters like Ian Fairweather and John Passmore, who was a lecturer at ETSC in the early 1950s.
After Carbins moved back to South Australia and married he moved to Marino, then an isolated community on the south coast. It was a landscape that sustained him for the rest of his career. His painting moved increasingly into a push-and-pull style that, by comparison, is reminiscent of some of Mondrian’s pre-plastic abstractions from the landscape, and even the rectilinear colour compositions of Mark Rothko.
As the suburban sprawl encroached on his idyllic coastal retreat, Carbins documented the advancing city. The local lighthouse also became a favourite subject for his art in the 1970s, perhaps a beacon not only for passing ships but a symbol of a passing era.
Carbins said he always sought the simplest solutions in his painting. His images are meditative, with softly pulsing, organic and pastel tones, and an attraction to the effects of light on the local landscape. His drawings are mostly spontaneous and inclined towards impressionist and expressionist interpretations of the posed figure.