Maz Dixon

The Life Exotic

20 October — 17 November 2018
Opening: Saturday, 20 October, 5:00 — 7:00 pm

Fox Galleries is proud to present The Life Exotic by Maz Dixon, featuring new paintings examining the Australian experience in relation to exoticism and fantasy through the imagery of late 20th century postcards.

Dixon’s research has led her to images of pale-skinned tourists who have taken on the role of intrepid explorers. They roam through untamed wilderness or admire orderly rows of exotic agricultural produce. At the end of the day they lounge around the hotel pool, clasping tropical drinks while admiring tables laden with fruit.

But their rapidly reddening complexions signal the underlying discomfort embedded in these constructed images, whose protagonists appear ill-suited to their surroundings. Sandals are not built for traipsing among coral reefs, with their spiky growths and occasionally lethal fauna. Even pool-lounging is a fraught affair, as bikini-clad ladies are perched precariously on rails or armrests to show off their wares to best advantage.

Blending these images with memories of her own childhood holidays, Dixon’s new paintings are encoded with an idea of Australia defined by beaches, babes, Big Things, roadside signage and cheap motels. With an emphasis on negative space, the bush disappears and iconic attractions are surrounded by open rainbow skies. Rendered in vibrant hues, diving dolphins and their admirers pose and perform blissfully for the camera.

By bringing postcard aesthetics into the realm of painting, she links idealised European painting traditions exemplified in Frederick McCubbin and Joseph Lycett with the media that followed. Postcards were once a primary source of information about far-off places, but they have always functioned as marketing devices. Employing the implied truth of photography and the persuasive strategies of advertising they sold not only dreams of sunny holidays but more-so, they implied that pure happiness exists out there, for those willing to go find it.

The postcard is ever present, no longer analogue but sent en masse via Instagram posts and stories. With beaming smiles and arms outstretched in pure bliss, Dixon’s subjects could be modelled after the beachgoers of today. These social images evoke a vicarious experience, cropped and enhanced to maximum effect. Brighter, better and beyond reality, they spread a pervasive message of enjoyment that renders dull our everyday lives, often with negative psychological effects.

With humour, nostalgia and criticality, Dixon mines through different cultural eras and into the semiotics of images to create works that simultaneously capture and question a persisting idealised conception of Australian identity in relation to the land. But by leaving exposed her many layers of pencil and thinly applied acrylic, Dixon makes the act of constructing images the true subject.


The Life Exotic featured in Trouble Magazine’s October Salon


2005 Master of Studio Art, Sydney College of Art, Sydney
2000 Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales College of Fine Arts, Sydney


2018   Finalist, Waverley Art Prize
2017   Winner, Waverley Art Prize (Open Prize)
2015   Visiting Artist, American Academy in Rome
2015   Finalist, Mosman Art Prize
2015   Finalist, Waverley Art Prize
2014   Finalist, Sir John Sulman Prize
2013   La Macina di San Cresci Residency, Greve in Chianti, Italy
2012   Finalist, Sir John Sulman Prize
2012   Finalist, Mosman Art Prize
2012   Finalist, Fisher’s Ghost Art Award (Contemporary Section)
2010   Waverley Council Artist-in-Residence Program
2007   Fauvette Loureiro Memorial Artists Exchange Scholarship


2017     El Dorado, Gaffa Creative Precinct
2016     Wonders of the Past, Gallerysmith Project Space
2016     Invictus, Palette Dining, presented by Louise Abbott at iArt
2011     Dawn and Dusk, galleryeight
2010     Terra Nova, Mary Place Gallery


2018     Waverley Art Prize, Waverley-Woollahra Art School
2018     Blank Spaces for the Imagination, Bondi Pavilion, Sydney
2018     New Dawn, Fox Galleries, Melbourne
2017     Persona, Scratch Art Space (Curated by Rachael Helmore)
2017     Waverley Art Prize, Waverley-Woollahra Art School