“And a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted’ (Genesis, 2:10)
Taking its title from the Book of Genesis, Darryn George’s A River Flowing out of Eden marks a notable shift in the artist’s career. Where previous abstract works utilised a limited palette of blue, red, black and white, brought together in minimalist compositions, George’s latest paintings are playfully polychromatic and combine abstracted shapes with foliage and flowers to create dreamlike gardens of delight.
The birth of this body of work was in the aftermath of New Zealand’s first terrorist attack: the Christchurch mosque shootings of 2019. Christchurch based, the artist witnessed diverse crowds gathering at the Botanic Gardens, coming together to join those affected in solidarity. This outpouring of love and support inspired the marked shift in George’s practice, and led him to formalise a new visual vocabulary he had been experimenting with since 2018.
The resulting paintings are deliberately naïve, both in technique and palette, using oil pastels to combine illustrative depictions of gardens with cheerfully saturated colour. They are direct and joyful. They ask their viewers to revel in their exuberant innocence, but they are also grounded in a quiet and restrained composition. The vertical structure we recognise from previous bodies of work becomes both a pillar of strength, and the river flowing from Eden to nourish the crowds below.