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Outback captures another artist

Monday, 5th May, 2014

Landscape artist Gunter Otto Kairies’ passion for the outback is on display in his latest exhibition in Menindee. Landscape artist Gunter Otto Kairies’ passion for the outback is on display in his latest exhibition in Menindee.

By Erica Visser

Sit down with Gunter Otto Kairies at his Chloride Street studio and he’s only too happy to tell you tales about his full and colourful life.

Gunter is holding an exhibition in Menindee of work inspired by the outback and the Simpson Desert in particular.

Born in Germany in 1933, it would be 50 years before Gunter discovered his artistic talent while sitting alone at the foot of the Anapurna Mountain Range at Nepal.

“I was going through a painful divorce so I left for Nepal to get in touch with my spirituality,” he said.

Gunter, who migrated to Australia in 1955, travelled with a group of Sherpas.

Every day when they stopped for a break mid morning, Gunter would sketch the landscape.

But it wasn’t until he returned to Sydney and showed the pictures to his friend, a water colour artist, that Gunter realised he had a talent for sketching and painting.

Six years later he returned to his home country and held a highly successful solo exhibition, “Die Weisse Sonne”, that featured 80 pictures of the Australian outback.

“I sold 40 of my works so that was a big ego trip,” he said.

Gunter still has copies of the many stories that appeared in German print media about his exhibition and the subsequent protests after he had overstayed his three-month visa and was facing deportation from Germany.

In 2012, Gunter and his partner of 15 years, fellow landscape artist Annie Learoyd, moved to Broken Hill after a year of travelling.

“We chose Broken Hill because it’s halfway between the Simpson Desert and halfway between the coast - 1200 kilometres each way,” said Annie, whose self-portrait was recently shown in the BH Regional Art Gallery.

The couple are happy with their decision and suspect they are here to stay.

The allure of the nearby desert was a plus for Gunter, who spends hours there  working alone.

“If anyone makes reference to the desert, I say, ‘Have you ever heard silence? And that’s the desert.’

“I’m always alone so when I’m there, I become part of the desert.”

Gunter’s exhibition is on at the Darling River Art Gallery, in the Menindee Tourist Centre at 27 Yartla Street.

It will run until the end of May and if you fancy a chat with the artist, Gunter will be at the gallery every Wednesday for the duration of the show.

“I’m happy to chat with people. I’m Tusitala, which is Samoan for storyteller.”

Anyone with questions about the exhibition is invited to call Gallery Manager John Clarke on 0428 736 630.

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