Not just an artist, Reg Mombassa, once simply Chris O'Doherty, is musically famed from band Mental as Anything, and more recently Dog Trumpet.
His South Coast connections date back to time spent with Polly Boyd, daughter of artist Arthur Boyd, on the families Bundanon and Riversdale property before it was gifted to the nation and turned into an artist retreat.
Mombassa spent a lot of time drawing around the south coast, often staying in Tathra when touring with the Mentals. And around Narooma and Merimbula, Bawley Point and Bendalong. Kangaroo Valley too.
Naturally drawn to landscapes that remind him of his home country New Zealand, the south coast landscape – rolling hills and rainforests, attracts him time and time again. Finding opportunities to escape and draw whenever possible while on tour with his band. Beaches headlands, islands, bush – things he was naturally attracted to.
“I’ve always painted landscapes I taught myself to paint landscape by copying impressionist landscapes when I was 15 or 16. In all my shows there have been landscapes, as well as the genre pictures – the more ridiculous kind of subject matter; popular culture and religion; political and historical references. I suppose I’ve always had the two approaches concurrently.”
Even the impressionistic landscapes have an element of stylisation to them, a figurative aspect; intensifying the moment caught in time. While not abstract, there are elements of abstract, or semi abstract within the whole.
Of his genre drawings and music, Mombassa says “I’m just reflecting the general kinds of anxiety that humans feel when you regard the world – the activities of humans and how ridiculous and violent and irrational they are – it kind of fascinates me.
I’m a relatively quiet reserved person, music and art are a good way of expressing what’s important to me. The whole world is going crazy at the moment, there’s a really disturbing drift towards the right wing of politics. The opportunity to rant a little bit. It’s worth doing.”