artist guy maestri

How do you top winning Australia's highest profile art prize, The Archibald? For Mudgee-born artist Guy Maestri, whose portrait of musician Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu won in 2009, you focus on doing what you always have done - creating art. He is about to showcase some of his most recent works in a satellite exhibition from the Tim Olsen Gallery at the Christine Abrahams Gallery in Melbourne. "No Man's Land" will run October 28 - November 13, 2011. Guy has also been a finalist in the Dobell Prize and the recipient of the Brett Whiteley Travelling Scholarship.

Which five words best describe you? Reasonably normal, unreasonably particular, driven, childish, short-ish, happy, simple.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? I got picked up by the Tim Olsen Gallery whilst at the National Art School. This allowed me to keep up the momentum and enthusiasm gained whilst studying, and just keep painting. I was lucky, because post art school can be hard for a lot of people. There's no real reason to keep painting, you get a job, etc, and life takes over. I was just lucky that this became my job.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? The thing with learning lessons is you forget them along the way. I've re-learned most of them two or three times already. I don't remember which was the best. Follow your instincts. Do what you know you have to do, but don't be in a rush, although I'm always in a rush. Try to remember the lessons you learnt.
What’s your proudest career achievement? I'd like to be cool and say something other than winning The Archibald, but basically that was it. I was way proud. My mum and dad were too. My grandma cried. It was a great time for me and my family. We were all very proud. But the pinnacle of proudness came when my mate was doing pub trivia and "Who won the 2009 Archbiald Prize?" was one of the questions. I was a pub trivia question!
What’s been your best decision? Quitting my job as a boatbuilder and going to art school. It was a tough decision "throwing away my career" to become an artist, but I knew there was no other path for me to take. It was the only thing I really had a passion and drive for. I wasn't prepared for my passion to be something I did on the weekends and after work. My work and my life are basically the same thing. I don't need to retire or take holidays, what I do is what I love doing.
Who inspires you? My friends and family. I tend to surround myself with people who inspire me. Mostly they are other painters (people who understand the obscure world I live in) or musicians. Enthusiastic people energise me. My family too. I'm very close to them. Every Saturday afternoon we all meet in my grandmother's house and hang out in my grandfather's work shed. We installed a commercial coffee machine in there and it's sort of like a cafe/workshop. We also roast coffee and are always fixing some old machine. It's a very energetic environment. Caffeine and grease.
What are you passionate about? Music, art, nature, coffee, collecting things, doing stuff, etc.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? I really don't know; sometimes meeting your heroes can be dangerous. You might realise they're just humans, or maybe they're a dickhead or something, and that could be terrible. Like my friends and I agree: we never want to meet Bob Dylan; he's better off not being human, or a possible dickhead. I don't know. I'm happy with the people I know.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? My mate keeps saying when we are all drawing and painting together that "these are the good old days", and he's right. You could say we're living the dream right now. And I'm happy enough with that.
What are you reading? I just read a couple of Cormac McCarthy books. The road and No country for old men. He is a beautiful writer. The road is gut-wrenchingly bleak, but it's written so well I keep telling people how beautiful it is
. It's about empty landscapes too, which is what I'm painting at the moment.

images courtesy of guy maestri

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