Using dense impasto surfaces and a luscious application of paint, often in a restricted palette, Malherbe generates a startling sense of immediacy in his works, moving paint freely around the canvas to capture light, shade and form. Malherbe works only from life, a method which contributes to the artist’s vigorous mark-making as he records a visual impression along with other, less tangible elements embodied by his different muses.
Through this expressive, gestural style Malherbe creates highly charged images of his female models. In some works the artist overtly explores sex and sexuality, while others lend themselves to a more subtle erotic suggestion. His landscapes painted en plein air are based on scenes from the small town of Blackheath in the Blue Mountains (NSW) where the artist lives, transforming the trees and streets of this elevated location through his intense palette of yellows, reds and oranges. Absorbing scenes from the everyday, such as watching the familiar rituals of his partner dress and undress, or the view that greets the artist when stepping out his front door, Malherbe is driven to express the deeply personal. And, in both his landscape oriented and figurative paintings he imparts a rich and pervasive sensuality.
Robert Malherbe is an exciting artist who has recently been awarded the highly sought after Art Gallery of NSW Residency at Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris. 2010 has also seen Malherbe selected for some major national art prizes, including both the Archibald Prize for portraiture and the Wynne Prize for landscape painting. He is represented in the Redland Art Gallery, Queensland and private collections around Australia.