Frank Nowlan's paintings reveal jarring elements in a contested public realm and a political engagement with his subjects. For some time his works have documented change and destruction as local cottages are replaced by grander examples of coastal architecture. Working in series, Nowlan locates patterns within these residential expressions. The fibro cottage is extended on, an access ramp attached. Brick veneer might cover the original surface or a pebbled pathway is added. This pattern language is extended upon in the current show, where the houses and their front yard displays act as portraits of the unseen residents.
Nowlan makes visual notes, either taking snapshots of potential subjects or drawing sketch diagrams. However ideas quickly become paintings, letting his work communicate directly. In the houses he pictures, we could laugh at the baroque nature of some of the design decisions or feel discomfort at the chaotic front lawn arrangements. But the more powerful suggestion is that these personal expressions are radical design acts pushing against the clean boxy forms of newer residential developments just up the road.
Nowlan is a past winner of the Fishers Ghost Contemporary Art Award. His work is held in significant private collections as well as the Wollongong University Collection and the Wollongong City Gallery. His work will be shown in Australasian Painters 2007 –2017, an Artist Profile magazine survey show at Orange Regional Gallery. This will place his work within a comprehensive overview of contemporary painting in Australasia.