THE Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) has launched a survey exhibition celebrating the achievements of a Tasmanian artist at the height of his career that will be presented over Summer.

‘David Keeling: Stranger’ features more than 70 artworks by the Launceston-born artist dating from the 1980s until today, many of which are from private collections and are being exhibited at TMAG for the first time.

The exhibition is part of TMAG’s series recognising living Tasmanian artists that includes ‘Julie Gough: Tense Past’ (2019), ‘Things I once knew: the art of Patrick Hall’ (2015), and ‘Illumination: the art of Philip Wolfhagen’ (2013).

A regular visitor to TMAG, Mr Keeling has drawn from its iconic collection items such as colonial paintings by John Glover and William Buelow Gould, taxidermy animals, Governor Arthur’s Proclamation Board and Fanny Cochrane Smith’s recorded song.

TMAG principal curator of art Jane Stewart said that Mr Keeling had dedicated his adult life to painting Tasmania, with the complexity and flaws of the landscape tradition remaining a central concern for the artist.

“At the same time, he has been influenced by international movements such as the Italian Renaissance, Surrealism and Classicism,” she said.

“The combination of elements which are both local and global, contemporary and historic, makes for a compelling body of artworks which match brilliantly with the aspirations of TMAG to tell Tasmanian stories.”

The exhibition title refers to an unsettling presence – a stranger – in nearly every one of Mr Keeling’s landscapes which have been ‘invaded’ by unfamiliar people and objects.

In his more recent paintings of Tasmanian forests, the viewer becomes the stranger as they are invited to enter into the uninhabited environments.

TMAG director Janet Carding said the museum was proud to be able to celebrate the work of another Tasmanian artist, following the success of last year’s exhibition Julie Gough: Tense Past.

“David Keeling: Stranger had been planned to open earlier in 2020, but the exhibition was delayed thanks to the museum’s temporary closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

“However, I am so pleased that the many lenders of the works, from all around Australia, were able to accommodate the change in schedule and that we are able to present this wonderful exhibition at TMAG over Summer.

“I’d also like to acknowledge the support of the Foundation of TMAG, whose assistance in presenting David Keeling: Stranger and in supporting TMAG year-round is always so greatly appreciated.”

The exhibition is currently open to the public at TMAG and will run over the Summer period until 14 February 2021.

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