Blair McNamara is an Australian waterman. He has been playing in the sea since he was first born. When he arrives to the world famous and historically diverse harbor city of Hong Kong this September for his Oceanica Semantica paintings exhibition at State-Of-The-Arts Gallery, he will deliver not just his expressive colorful paintings but a container of sea-water from his home beach on the edge of the Pacific Ocean’s, Coral Sea.
This ritual is Blair’s way of ‘thanks’ for safe passage and connection. Having extensively traveled so long and so far through places like Polynesia and Latin America he feels that the act of carrying sea water from one continent to the other, or one beach to another, is his personal way of guaranteeing his artistic passage.
It also is for him like carrying a potent tonic for general health and vitality. Blair can use the clean salty seawater for the many ailments that can affect the weary traveler. It’s many hygienic qualities such as an aftershave or mouth-rinse is considered by Blair to be one of our planets greatest gifts. “There are more minerals in a hand full of seawater than in the most expensive Hollywood beauty treatment,” says Blair.
During both the First and Second World Wars, medical officers were often forced to use seawater for transfusions instead of blood as it has the same density.
Australia is thankfully, one of the most strictly quarantined countries in the world. However, since the 1980’s, the cold southern waters of Tasmania’s ports have been infested with a toxic starfish from the dumping of ballast by Japanese cargo ships that arrive empty for the loading of woodchips harvested from the regions ancient old-growth forests.
On hearing about this, Blair realized that the open waters (apart from Tasmanian unique forests) of Australia are some of the purest in the world.
Historical Chronology Behind The Colors – Blair’s paintings can often be categorized into series, each series testifying the changes and chronologies of an era; it can also be viewed as a record of Blair’s personal sentiments over a period of time. Each day, after venturing out into the vast ocean and completely immersing himself into the sound and movements of the nature, Blair comes back to his studio, recalling what he has felt earlier or feeling what the nature has influenced him in that day’s adventure.
Then, through colors, whether bright or murky, and brushstrokes, whether defined or ambiguous, Blair puts the intangible emotions, sensations, and natural beauty into concrete paintings on canvas. Because of Blair’s sensitivity, our earth’s energy and radio wave are transcribed into artistic signs.. His paintings can mainly be classifies and viewed from several perspectives, namely historical records and personal emotional diaries. As Blair stated before, art is a kind of emotional sensitivity, a way to react emotionally to the environment surrounding us.
The series named by Blair himself as “The MAP Series” is one of the many of his paintings that conceptualize the Australian coastline into patterns, lines, and patches of blues. The use of this harmonious and natural mixture of blue and green is symbolic of our ocean and land, which nurture all living creatures. Devoted to promoting ecology ad protecting the ocean he loves, Blair shows us the true colors of the natural landscape that we are living in everyday yet always miss out because we never have the time to feel. Perhaps, it is only through Blair’s map paintings that we can finally open our eyes to the colors in the nature.