Vale Philip Hunter

It is with great sadness that we’ve learnt of the untimely passing of Philip Hunter. The Lowensteins wishes to express its deepest condolences from to the artist’s family and friends.

The artist’s obituary will appear in one of our newsletters – in the meantime, below is a copy of an obituary by Ashley Crawford in The Australian –

Ashley Crawford, “Philip Hunter, artist and larrikin, dead at 58”, The Australian, 6 Apr 2017.

The art world was in mourning on Wednesday as news of the death of renowned artist Philip Hunter spread. He was 58.

Hunter had been suffering from cancer for what transpired to be a mercifully short period.

Born in the Victorian regional town of Donald in 1958, he became known for his lavish, somewhat abstracted landscape paintings of the region in which he grew up, the Wimmera.

Hunter was a larrikin intellectual. He never lost his country-bred drawl, his rough RM Williams sense of fashion or his love of a tipple of whisky, although that lessened as he grew older. He also never lost his love of the outdoors and would relish setting up camp, particularly in the hills overlooking the wheat fields of the Wimmera.

Watching the tides of the wind ruffling the wheat stalks or the lights of the harvesters working at night inspired the strange sinuous shapes that meandered across his canvases, which swung in mood from beatific to apocalyptic.

He similarly relished long lunches with those he considered his cultural peers. Hunter achieved his doctorate in philosophy at Deakin University in 1999 and surrounded himself with lively conversational combatants. It was not unusual for him and his wife, fellow artist Vera Moller, to invite the likes of author Gerald Murnane, architects Peter Corrigan and Maggie Edmond, former National Gallery of Victoria head Patrick McCaughey, philanthropist Lyn Williams, academics Janine Burke, Jenepher Duncan and Justin Clemens and literary critic Peter Craven to rowdy lunches fuelled by red wine.

“There’s a paradox about Phil,” Norbert Loeffler, lecturer in art history at the Victorian College of the Arts, said when Hunter was still alive. “There are a lot of contradictions. He comes across on the one hand as this blokey character, this gangly larrikin. But when you get closer to him you realise he’s a much more complex figure than meets the eye. He’s very sensitive, very open to different ideas and stimuli.”

For most, the flat plains of the Wimmera would hold little attraction, but it was in this apparent “nothingness” that Hunter found abundant inspiration. As he once said: “Not unlike the actual places I investigate, the site of the canvas is an invariably complex field of conceptual possibilities and material outcomes, a zone where different foci, fragments, textures, perspectives, illusory spaces, moods and views coexist.”

A gentleman poet, a larrikin philosopher with an iron handshake and a ready smile, Hunter will be sadly missed.

He is survived by his wife Vera and son Sam.