ideas, art philosophy, guestbook

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my manifesto

Having worked as a professional architect, I tend to focus on the most significant aspects of the job at hand and try to assess what are the essential features of a visual experience, consequently I tend to favour abstraction and minimalism .  All unnecessary detail is eliminated and only the important and significant is captured and emphasized.

Never compete with the camera
Technical perfection in reproducing what our eyes see is a similar process to a composer trying to reproduce the natural sounds heard in Nature.  As a visual artist, I am only interested in creating images which express my subjective response to places, feelings and try to capture of ‘being there’.

Venture beyond the comfort zone
Many artists settle on a successful style and never move beyond this safe comfort zone.  All their work is much the same even when they introduce small variations to the 'blueprint' they follow.  I much prefer variety and revel in the excitement of discovering new ways, accidents and untried techniques.  I love experimenting with new approaches and accept and make the best of unintended accidents.

The seduction of abstraction
Competent abstract artists use similar principles to composers of music -- balanced compositions, harmony, contrast, tension, counterpoint, colour, tone, texture, rhythm and so on.  Our objectives are the same: create an interesting mood, arouse a feeling, stir some emotions.

Focus on the happy side of life
I love using bright, cheerful ‘Aussie’ colours and to express the thrill of being alive.  I concentrate on creating happy and cheerful images, that give a pleasant sensation to the viewer.

As an artist my goal is achieved when people tell me that my artworks speak to them, when my creations touch their hearts and also lift their spirits.

my artist philosophy

I aim to create artworks which celebrate Nature, nurture the human spirit and provide stimulation and enjoyment to our lives.  I believe that people need more than the simple necessities of food, shelter and security.

We should also satisfy our intellectual curiosity, fulfil our aspirations and nurture our spiritual and emotional wellbeing.

So we need to rise above the humdrum, the ordinary and the daily grind of survival.  This is where the arts provide a relief.  Encounter with literature, music, theatre and fine arts provides great opportunities if we want to satisfy our creative urges.  At the same time we are rewarded with lasting enjoyment and satisfaction.

See my article on Abstract Landscape Paintings published in web.



aboriginal art and pointillism

Some of my painting styles somewhat resemble French impressionist pointillism.  Alternatively, some of these "pointillist" paintings could be construed as derived from or strongly influenced by Aboriginal art.  The latter can also be seen as bridge building between Western and Australian Indigenous art.  There is some truth in both these impressions, even though the explanation is more complicated.

My patterns of dots and small strokes of different adjoining colours usually produce a kinetic and vibrant effect when viewed close up.  From afar, the cavalcade of different colours merge together and create landscape-like elements or organic textures similar to ones produced by Mother Nature.

Much of contemporary aboriginal art, especially the "dot paintings", is also similarly produced and can have a strong pointillist appearance. This particular stylistic interpretation of the Australian landscape, especially desert inspired works, is a natural result of the careful observation of the minute details seen in the local environment.

Indigenous people, and not only the ones living the traditional life, have an especial connection to Country.  This explains their acute abilities to see, sense and feel the colours, patterns, textures and the rhythms of their environment.  Consequently their interpretation of natural phenomena often results in dot paintings (and more, much more).

I am an unapologetic admirer of these abilities, in constant awe of Indigenous artistry. So I cannot help it if sometimes I create artworks in homage to their approaches and try to look at "Country" as they do.  I must emphasize that in my endeavours I deliberately avoid any use of totems or Dreamings or any other cultural aspect owned by any Aboriginal group or individual.  Even though artistic appropriation is quite fashionable nowadays amongst many successful artists, it is definitely not my methodology.

In summary, this particular individual style of mine (and I have many others) is derived from looking at the Australian countryside and based entirely on my acute subjective observation of landscape patterns, textures and rhythms. Whether scattered trees, rocks and shrubs seen from above in the outback, or Spinifex spread across sunburnt deserts, or multitude of underwater creatures competing at the shoreline, it will all find its way onto my canvases.

And if an Aboriginal influence is apparent in some of my work, so much for the better. 

P.S. My paintings have been checked by an Indigenous Art Curator of the Gallery of NSW who stated that my work cannot be construed as "Aboriginal", anybody who says so is "ignorant" (sic).

master's tips - advice to art students and emerging artists

Many beginners and student artists ask for my advice on how to go about painting.  By-passing the subject of painting technique, I prefer to deal with the creative process and the focus on the "correct approach".  I put down a few pointers on how to apply the "right approach":

  • Do not become merely an illustrator who relies mainly on technique and limited to reproduction of external appearances.   Express your creativity by using your imagination, original thoughts, and work from the heart.

  • As probably only 1% of artists can paint photographic perfection, don’t waste your energy trying to compete with the camera.  Good  photographers can produce such images with a fraction of your effort.

  • Utilise what you are good at; do not struggle with the very difficult or nearly impossible.  Find your forte and comfort zone.  Enjoy being there and build up your confidence.  Later on you can gradually take on the more difficult aspects of painting.

  • Still, it is necessary to break out of your comfort zone occasionally; so try something completely different from what you usually do.  New challenges will liberate your mind and invigorate your creativity.

  • Having fun by experimenting is better for your spirit than dogged chasing of perfection by hard labour.  Masterpieces are just as likely to emerge through carefree experimentation and controlled accidents than by boring doggedness.

  • So, welcome painting accidents and "mistakes", they often lead to new directions and unforeseen possibilities.

  • Do not dismiss art which is vastly different from yours, you can learn from other styles, approaches and methods.

variety or uniformity?

Being a contemporary artist with a very broad range of subject matter and 'styles', sometimes I wonder if this is a wise approach.  Would it be better to restrict myself to a safe comfort zone, where I could produce endless variations of my commercially successful ones, for example?

Many artists just stick to a certain "look" and do endless variations on the same theme.  A good example is the talented John Coburn; nearly all his paintings have a relatively uniform background with a number of carefully arranged pleasant shapes, usually oval circles, diamonds, curvaceous forms and such.  Beautiful colours, subtle refinements.  No drama and no surprise but reliable good taste, lovely arrangement and immaculate execution.  In his exhibitions you see consistency and uniformity.  Galleries and art collectors just love this reliability and predictability.


On the other hand, many artists go on a merry-go-round of exploration and experimentation.  They try different ways of seeing things, their imagination is not restricted to a single approach but get carried away with the process of discovering something never done before. Like Picasso did most of his life; dabbling in many different media and changing "styles" frequently and fervently.  Being carried away with the passion of the pursuit. His enormous talent and eventual acceptance by the public saved him from being called a scatter-brain or worst.

So what is an artist without the reputation of a Coburn or Picasso to do?  Play safe and do "consistent"?  Or just carry on and get carried away with the passion of the chase, irrespective of how many completely different directions it leads to? 

As for me, the only way to go is by being carried away with the passion of discovery, "safe" is definitely not for me!

art quotations

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.
Charles Mingus

The painter should not paint what he sees,
but what will be seen.
Paul Klee

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance
of things, but their inward significance.

Abstraction is real, probably more real than nature.
I prefer to see with closed eyes
Josef Albers

Abstract art places a new world, which on the surface has nothing to do with 'reality,' next to the 'real' world.
Wassily Kandinsky

Abstraction allows man to see with his mind what he cannot physically see with his eyes...   Abstract art enables the artist to perceive beyond the tangible, to extract the infinite out of the finite. It is the emancipation of the mind.  It is an explosion into unknown areas.
Arshile Gorky

What does that represent? There was never any question in plastic art, in poetry, in music, of representing anything. It is a matter of making something beautiful, moving, or dramatic – this is by no means the same thing.
Fernand Leger

I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say 'he feels deeply, he feels tenderly'.
Vincent Van Gogh

What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter.
Henri Matisse

In painting one must search rather for suggestion than for description, as is done in music.
Paul Gauguin


Abstract art should be enjoyed just as music is enjoyed – after a while you may like it or you may not.
Jackson Pollock

In painting one must search rather for suggestion than for description, as is done in music.
Paul Gauguin

Without art, the crudeness of reality
would make the world unbearable.
George Bernard Shaw

Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.
Pablo Picasso

Great art picks up where nature ends.
Marc Chagall

In our fine arts, not imitation, but creation is the aim... The details, the prose of nature, he should omit, and give us only the spirit and splendour.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

In a successful painting everything is integral – all the parts belong to the whole. If you remove an aspect or element you are removing its wholeness.
Richard Diebenkorn

Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together make genius.  Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.

I do the same thing everyday. I go to work and paint. I try to turn out as many pictures as I can.
Andy Warhol

The chief function of colour should be to serve expression. Henri Matisse

"Wilderness by Design"

Extract from Natasha Percy's article written in Artist's Palette Magazine

"Ernie Gerzabek's training in architecture and design adds an edge to his paintings,
which reflect the Australian landscape in a unique way. 
His use of invigorating colour and patterns reflects his desire to create works
that inspire optimism, reflect the vitality of the wilderness
and provide a meaningful experience for the viewer."

Ernie left his homeland of Hungary at the age of 18 as a refugee and spent two years in Austria with his family before migrating to Sydney Australia.  As a child, growing up in a landlocked country under the oppressive communist regime, he had resigned himself to the probability that he would never see the sea. 

In a wonderful twist of irony, today he has made his home on Sydney’s northern beaches, regularly travels to Europe and North America and finds much of his inspiration from the stunning landscapes he encounters on three different continents.

Ernie Gerzabek’s background as an architect adds an edge to his paintings, which reflect the love of nature in a unique way.  His use of invigorating colour and patterns reflects his desire to create works that inspire optimism, reflect the vitality of the wilderness and provide a meaningful experience for the viewer.  “For me, the colours are stimulating” he explains.  “I like bright optimistic colours that can translate into the thrill of being alive.”  Ernie sees colour as both an emotional and visual tool and he aims to choose those that best express his feelings towards his subject matter.

Dots and lines form a significant part of Ernie’s paintings and he maintains they are the basic elements of visual expression as a whole.  “Dots allow different colours to be put side by side and then those colours blend together in your eye (or more accurately in your mind), producing a new colour.”


When considering which artists inspire him, Ernie says he most admires Van Gogh’s intensity and use of colour to stir up emotions, Paul Klee’s sensitive insight into our inner beings, Kandinsky’s exuberance and sense of composition and Picasso’s brave inventiveness.  As for Australian artists, he loves John Olsen’s playful and imaginative expression, Sydney Nolan’s “cutting to the chase”, Fred Williams’ ability to abstract the essential elements of a landscape, and last but not least, Aboriginal Emily Kngwarreye’s instinctive mastery of colour, structure and connection to Country.

Ernie loves the purity and intensity of abstract art.  “I look at abstraction as the process of reducing and distilling the essential elements from a landscape, for example the colours, rhythm, mood and feel of the place,” he says.  Getting rid of unnecessary detail and extracting the most important features of a scene what really matters, according to Ernie.  “I try to go beyond the hillside, sunshine, vines, grapes and wine to find the final product, the concentrated spirit, the brandy” he illustrates.

Ernie believes this ‘filtering’ process is well-suited to the subject matter of the natural world.  “Wilderness by its nature is untamed, overwhelming, and awe-inspiring – unless simplified, it is beyond our comprehension to take it all in,” he says.  According to Ernie, getting down to the basics is not as easy as it might seem, and not many do it well.  “Good abstraction leapfrogs the trivial and bypasses the intermediary to convey information directly,” he states.  “Bad abstraction is contrived and forced and can very easily become clichéd.”

While selling paintings naturally has its benefits, Ernie says the real achievement comes when his viewers not only find his work attractive, but also find it speaks to them.  “My main aim in being an artist is to produce art that is meaningful to people,” he says.

© Ernie Gerzabek.   All Rights Reserved

 Gerzabek Artist Gallery