Brent Lynch is a highly acclaimed artist whose works hang on the walls of many art galleries (check out Ida Victoria Art Gallery and Tutt Street Fine Art Gallery) and corporate and private collections. He works in a variety of genres and apparently takes pride in being a versatile painter. His art exudes deep spiritualism, both in seeking and expression; the figurative pieces exhibit it with a particularly conquering verve. Two of his paintings, Evening Lounge and Cigar Bar, top the art.com bestselling list — and both depict human figure, albeit from an ostensibly, even defiantly obscure angle.
The painting immediately surprises the viewer: showing a man’s back, it presents an anti-portrait of a sort, alienating the audience. Alienation as a modern (or perhaps post-modern) term informs the piece thematically; we, as the audience, are given the cold shoulder and the smoker appears to have been treated similarly. He makes an impression of a mysterious, plunged in thought and above all lonely man. Curiously, he looks away from the outstretched hand that holds the drink, as if the hand was an alien organ that wants to bring him harm. Arguably, this compositional choice by the artist injects the motif of alcoholism and personal struggle with the disease.
The punch of the piece ensues from the contrast of the black wearing cool dandy having a smoke and a martini with the imposing red rectangle facing the man. It’s unclear what it means, whether it is a mirror reflecting the murky interior (although a mirror would have probably shown the sitter’s face) or an abstract painting. The artist sneaks in an irony by the color juxtaposition : Is the man really that cool and confident? Is he impervious to desire and impulse that the color red is known to signify? Could he in fact be an emotional wreck, posing and trying to conceal his inner state by fashionable clothing? All these questions are left hanging in the air, intensifying the general mood of smoky mystery.
But the most distressing feature in this painting is the use of shade and light. These are sharp and unstable, sometimes outright exaggerated. For instance the hat casts a disturbing shadow on the man’s back of the head, as if mocking the audience: we can’t see the face — but we can’t see the back either. His right leg creates a long shadow that balances the left arm but, also parodies it, first by being intangible and second by the sharp slanting angle. All these features and questions combined prompt to question the protagonist, the main problem remaining — does he question himself?