Tim Maguire’s portrait of actor Cate Blanchett is the result of a number of sittings. Photography is an integral part of Maguire’s painting process. He takes a photo, adjusts it digitally and then, using scans of the adjusted image in each of the three primary printing colours – yellow, magenta and cyan – he builds up the image in transparent layers of paint based on these ‘colour separations’. After painting each layer, he sprays the work with a diluted solvent, which creates random mixes of colour.
‘Capturing the right photo of Cate was tricky,’ he says. ‘I wanted something un-posed and natural, as if she were unaware of the camera. I took numerous photographs, before finding the right one. The subsequent challenge was to find a way to build up the layers of paint without losing the wonderful luminosity of her complexion.
‘The left panel is made of very thin painted layers of yellow and magenta. By leaving out the cyan I was better able to preserve the white of the canvas, and thus the lightness and transparency that I was seeking. In the right panel, the addition of cyan completes the spectrum, adding density and richness.’
Born in the UK in 1958, Maguire arrived in Australia in 1959. Known for his sumptuous paintings and prints, often featuring flowers, he has exhibited widely in Australia and Europe since winning the Moet & Chandon Fellowship in 1993. His portrait of Blanchett is now in the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia.