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Louis Kahan

In their own words

Recorded 1965

Louis Kahan
Audio: 2 minutes

I have no preconceived idea how to set about, because I feel painting is an adventure and very often a method I’ve been using for years, or for days, wouldn’t apply to the subject or the mood. Quite generally speaking, my works in oil are based on sketches – vaguely based on sketches – and come to life only while I’m in the process of execution. One must always leave – I at least must always leave – a certain element of ambiguity which appears in the work in mental process while you’re at work. I love working from life, life drawings – I do quite a number, and my life drawings very often don’t have any close relationship to the work I’m doing based on those drawings. My subject matter is a very varied one, for the very reason that I consider art an adventure and any path I have trodden before seems to me very often used up, and I need to find a different stimulus and a different subject or combination of ideas.

The actual painting of a picture doesn’t take long. Very often I may only spend an hour a day in actual execution of a painting; most of the time is spent just thinking about it, looking at the work, the stage in which the work is, and so drift, think and let things develop in my mind.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Louis Kahan is from the De Berg Collection in the National Library of Australia. For more information, or to hear full versions of the recordings, visit the National Library of Australia website.

Audio source

National Library of Australia, Hazel de Berg collection

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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