The subject of Robert Malherbe’s painting is Dana Rayson, an award-winning motion graphics designer and Malherbe’s wife of 30 years, who models for him on occasion. They have two grown children – Gigi, a National Art School student, who is a finalist in this year’s Sulman Prize, and Fabien, a university student majoring in medical science.
‘In the last three years, the world has weighed more heavily than usual on everyone. Collectively we’re all doing the same thing – silently screaming,’ says Malherbe, a four-time Archibald finalist.
‘This painting, Dana, head in hands, is influenced by Edvard Munch’s 1893 painting The scream. It was painted for my own pleasure, in one session and directly from life.’
The sitting took place in the dining room of the family’s home in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, during the 2021 lockdown due to COVID-19. ‘I wanted a feeling of inwardness from the pose: a contained anxiety; penetrating knowledge in a pair of blue eyes. I have contrasted these quiet sensations with the gloves, painted in an intense cadmium red, which pushes Dana’s face forward and suggests a louder sound.’