Encompassing all the chaos, drama and loneliness that the Australian bush can present, regional Victorian landscape painter Andy Pye deserves a place in Australian art history. Respectfully, he borrows from past Australian masters, interpreting powerful scenes in a new way with his fast-moving, detailed and colour-rich oils.

For recent visitors to Wickens (restaurant) at the Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld – a Eugene von Guérard-inspired painting of the Grampian’s Mt Abrupt – has recently been hung within the chef’s table dining space, completing the room for which executive chef Robin Wickens explains is a ‘warm kitchen environment that’s a 180 degree flip of the usual cold, commercial kitchens.’

Highly prolific in his free-flowing landscape paintings, Andy Pye, earlier this year, completed two large-scale capital city exhibitions, including, Magma : Gamma, at Melbourne’s Modern Times gallery (Aug 11-23) that focused on the unusual colour tonality and changes brought about by light rays filtering through bush canopies; and Bush Theatre, in May-June this year, with leading Sydney art dealer Martin Browne Contemporary, presenting a broad and appealing range of works and subject matter that significantly increased the values of his paintings.

Andy’s distinctly original Australian paintings are fresh and lively, born from living in remote regional areas. Earlier this year, his love of the Southern Grampians led to a deeper study of Johann Joseph Eugene von Guérard’s 1856 colonial-era work of Mount Abrupt. Andy, who lived in Dunkeld for a short time, returned to the Grampians to work on his approach to the very same Mount Abrupt view, including Mount Sturgeon’s peak. This resulted in two new iconic paintings, one for the restaurant space; another made available for sale this week via Durrant Contemporary Art Gold Coast/Melbourne.

Unlike von Guérard’s more conservative approach, painting the Australian bush in softer, more European ‘filtered’ light, Andy delivers more energetic, sharply focused paintings that gracefully meld rising chiselled cliff faces bathed in golden morning light with the natural meandering flow of the foothill treelines below. This authentic depiction of the Australian bush is where Andy’s work shines, as recognised by some of Australia’s leading gallerists and Wickens, who is a great fan.

‘We’ve been looking for an artwork for the restaurant that’s connected to the Grampians, where we are. Andy has a unique painting style and captures the Grampians light, trees and landscape in a such a special way,’ says Wickens. ‘When guests are at the chef’s table, they are facing away from the Grampians, but now they’re sitting directly opposite Andy’s Mt Abrupt piece, so finally, the people on the chef’s table also get a view of the Grampians; which works perfectly.’

Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel arrival area into the dining room – Photo: Emily Weaving
Chef Robin Wickens – Photo: Emily Weaving
Andy Pye
Untitled (Mount Sturgeon, Grampians), 2022
Oil on canvas, 140 x 125cm – now offered for sale

Andy Pye’s Mt Abrupt/Mud-Dadjug painting is on semi-permanent loan to the Royal Mail Hotel from Andy via associate art dealer Durrant Contemporary Art. It hangs in the kitchen/chef’s table dining space at Wickens at Royal Mail Hotel.

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Andy Pye’s larger Untitled (Mt Abrupt) painting (pictured above) is now offered for sale via Durrant Contemporary Art.

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