Phoenix Rising is Keith Lane’s second solo with Nolan Gallery. Originally a Londoner Keith spent his lunch hours studying the great atmospheric paintings of Joseph Mallord William Turner and John Martin at the Tate and the National Gallery. In Phoenix Rising we see a bravura pictorial treatment of contemporary Australian stressors, bushfire and pandemic informed by these great painters. The gorgeous desecration of Turners’s the Burning of the Houses of Parliament is mirrored in Lane’s Canberra After the Rain. John Martin’s apocalyptic spiral visions of the Italian Alps is referenced in Beacon 2 where the complacency of puny human beings is shaken by forces far greater than themselves.
Despite the last two years these works allow a way through. As the pandemic ends and a Summer almost free of bushfires moves in to Autumn, from the ashes of Covid arises a Phoenix, hence the title of the exhibition. Science and determination have combined to extinguish the conflagration. In the 1800s it was the defeat of Napoleon.