Jenny Pihan Fine Art proudly presents – Maxwell Wilks & John Orlando Birt, 17th – 26th February 2017














John Orlando Birt
Broken Hill-born, John was educated in Adelaide, South Australia, where he attended the
South Australian School of Art majoring in fine art and art history, and later studied
industrial design at the Institute of Technology. After graduating he pursued a career in
the automotive industry initially designing automobiles here, and then to further his
career, worked in USA, Japan, Italy, England and Germany. He now resides in Melbourne.
As a professional artist, he retains an avid interest in ‘all things mechanical’; boats feature
in many of his watercolours, and planes in many of his oils, having won numerous
awards for his aviation paintings.
Having held over 18 solo exhibitions, some at a prestigious Italian gallery, John spends
time most years travelling to Europe to paint on location in Italy, France, England and
Portugal – Italy is his favourite place to paint outside of his home country. He is a
member of ‘Concilio Europeo D’arte’ in Venice, and as such one of 280 artists who paint
Italy, and has lectured at the University of Venice Architectural School.
‘The single most important factor in my painting is the mastering of light; that is light
portrayed, light reflected and light suffused,’ he explains
‘I enjoy the challenge of capturing the changing moods that light creates at different times
of the day and the effects it has on the surroundings, such as buildings, the landscape and
water. The atmospheric effect of light always stimulates my artistic eye. As an artist, I
believe that painting on location ensures that I capture the essence of the subject
especially the subtleties and nuances of that time and place.’
Extract from the book “Venice Revisited” by Sandra Harris,
page 91 under Living Artists, Living Art….
“Australian John Orlando Birt, a greatly acclaimed industrial designer and watercolourist, captures Venice
in a way that makes you heart stop, drenched with light and echoing with reflections. Birt has an annual
exhibition at Holly’s Gallery. Visitors bewildered by the rows of artists, busy palettes and canvases lined
up outside the Piazza San Marco or the Accademia Bridge, would do well to visit Holly Snapp first.” Jenny Pihan Fine Art – Online Gallery and Exhibitions
Contact: Jenny Pihan 0417 368 807 / Deborah Limon: 0419 879 725
“Quality Works…Happy Clients”










Maxwell Wilks Fiery orange reds, spark-like flicks of colour, vivid blues and unexpected balances and cadences are some of the atmospheric tools in Maxwell Wilks’ graphic repertoire played out as mood and ambience in his powerful pastel renderings of the Australian landscape. Similarly, his oils reveal clever drawn architectural structure, delicate tonal plays of light, vigorous brushwork and economy of strokes, and an uncanny inclination to create beautiful urban/ruralscapes while not making a sanitised version of reality. Born in Melbourne in 1944, Maxwell left secondary school to work in the graphic arts industry, studied drawing under John Brack and Ian Armstrong at the Victorian National Gallery School, Commercial Design at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and later painting with Shirley Bourne. His discovery of tonal impressionism combined with his solid draftsmanship, design ability and the colour skills fundamental to the craft of the graphic artist catalysed his painterly vision, allowing him to formulate his own individual style and take on representational picture making. He joined the “Seven Painters”, a group of artists grounded in similar theories, understanding and attitude to a modern/contemporary vein of painting, and gained much from freely exchanging ideas with these likeminded artists, plus the added stimulus of spending many hours painting together as a group and exhibiting the finished works. Winning the 1982 the AME Bale Art Travel Scholarship facilitated his move to the Cotswolds, England, to continue his studies and paint countryside of very different lighting effects to his Australian homeland. While there he visited Europe and its historic public and commercial galleries and completed many paintings and drawings. In 1986 he went to Ireland to paint and exhibited those paintings here on his return. In 1988, 1990 and 1993 he led study tours to France, Holland and England, visiting all the major galleries and painting on location; at the end of each tour he remained in the respective country to gather enough visual material for a show when he returned to Melbourne. A respected former tutor at the Victorian Artists Society, he now holds occasional workshop weekends for advanced landscape painters, is a past VAS council member and is a VAS fellow, a member of the Twenty Melbourne Painters Society and a member of the old Australian Watercolour Society. He has won many awards, is represented in private collections and corporate collections nationally and internationally and is featured in several publications on Australian art. Maxwell Wilks is an en plein air painter, preferring the immediacy of painting directly from his subject on site to the clinicalness of the studio, his main influences being Monet, Pissaro, Manet, Sisely, Whistler, Sargent and Sickert.
Jenny Pihan Fine Art – Online Gallery and Exhibitions Contact: Jenny Pihan 0417 368 807 / Deborah Limon: 0419 879 725
“Quality Works…Happy Clients”


Demonstration Days:


Maxwell Wilks demonstrating in Pastel – Saturday 25th February in the Studio.  2 – 4pm $25 per person.

John Orlando Birt demonstrating in Watercolour – Sunday 26th February in the Studio.  2-4pm $25 per person.

Booking and prepayment essential to secure spot.

Contact: Jenny Pihan Fine Art – Deborah Limon 0419 879 725