Love. We yearn for it. We delight in it. We cry over it. We wonder about it. Auguste Blackman has picked up the idea of love and its reality, held it in his hands, turned it over, felt its weight and produced an exhibition which reflects his exploration of what love is for him.
Through The Love Story, he confronts his feelings about his own marriage now that the last of his six children has left home and he and his wife, Andrea, are left facing each other in an empty nest.
I think it is important to start a consideration of this exhibition with the portrait hung in the window of the gallery. A pensive young man stands alone, clutching a bunch of flowers. His whole being exudes the ‘Hope’ for which the portrait is named. This is Auguste before he entered the couple.
From this outside-looking-in introduction, we cross the threshold into Auguste Blackman’s soul. This is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve. All the emotions that form part of the journey of a 20-year marriage are there in full colour on the wall with the paintings themselves hung in haphazard, family-photo style on the wall. Most of the works feature the couple in various attitudes of first love, nervousness, bliss, love, angst, jealousy, and devotion. Nothing is held back. But, far from feeling as though I was some kind of voyeur peering in through the blinds, there is a brave candour here. Auguste wants to share his journey with us through the highs and the lows and the wondering to the beautiful conclusion that he is very much in love with his wife and “he wants to stay married.” In fact, Auguste credits Andrea for teaching him to love well.
He did have other role models which would have added to his questions around love. His father, renowned Australian painter, Charles Blackman, and his writer mother, Barbara, had an extremely passionate relationship, which ended after 27 years of marriage.
The tenderness of Auguste’s examination of love is palpable. You cannot stand in the middle of the room surrounded by this homage to the many facets of love and emerge unmoved.
The Love Story is testament to Auguste’s poetic and passionate personality. A beautiful colourist, we can see his verve and life force. Through his expressive, delicate painting style he shares personal experiences of love and union.