Reviews image

Graham Lang’s first exhibition at the Hermit Gallery has a seriousness and a quality that marks him as a person to watch in the future … although these are personal expressions of one artist’s inner feelings, they cannot in our particular society, fail to take on wider meanings, and so to miss their social and political implications is to miss part of their message. Andrew Verster, Art Exhibition: Graham Lang, Daily News, 1980

Lang is particularly successful with his shattering sculptural statements … this is an imaginative, highly competent first exhibition. Marilynne Holloway, The Sunday Tribune, 1980

This collection of paintings and sculpture … establishes him as a person of tough convictions and tender humanity. They are not easy works for in them we see aspects of ourselves and the image is disquieting. In his mirror of reality there is pain and despair as well as the spirit to live and survive. Andrew Verster, The memory lingers on, Daily News, 1983

Graham Lang’s exhibitions are always full of ideas. Nothing he makes is without a reason. Nothing is intended to decorate or merely please … for me it is his sculpture which dominates this collection. They have a special quality that touches one deeply [and] reinforce his position as a sculptor of great distinction. Andrew Verster, Sculpture dominates articulate exhibition, Daily News 1984

Painter Berry Bickle and sculptor Graham Lang are amongst the few deeply dedicated and intensely committed artists who have chosen to comment on conditions in our society. Their work deals with experiences that are as specific to the Eastern Cape as they are particular to the rest of southern Africa … Both claim to reflect the ethos, or “spirit”, of Africa in an intuitive, instinctive way. Their work is concerned with the correlation between physical and psychic states of being, between “material suffering and spiritual survival”. Nicolaas Vergunst, Grocott’s Mail, 1985

Graham Lang speaks of the universal relevance of images distilled of conflicting experiences as he revisited his place of origin, Africa … The sculptures are clean, simple and yet grand. The strength and simplicity of his forms and the sensitive way in which he responds to the changed social and political climate in Africa are [his] alone. Margaret Eley, Newcastle Herald, 1995

This collection of large and small scale sculptures, paintings and drawings … represent the themes that have dominated Lang’s work during a time of migration from South Africa, subsequent dislocation and resettlement into life as a university lecturer in Australia. Recurrent motifs provide comprehensible keys to reading earlier pieces and though many of the works deal with sobering subjects, they do so with wit. Lang’s control of his materials and understanding of their potential to signify meaning are consistent aspects of his work as is a pervasive sense of his African heritage. Meryl Ryan, Graham Lang: Dislocations – Survey Exhibition 1990-1997, Newcastle Herald 1997

Graham Lang, in several major installation pieces, tells of the human cost of British imperial power in Africa, working with archival slides as well as the cogent metaphors implicit in his choice of materials. Suggestions are both intellectual and visceral with deliberate shocks to the viewer, like the bowl of teeth. Jill Stowell, Colonial Gifts, Newcastle Herald, 1998

In such a show of strength, it is hard to single out individuals. But sculptors Graham Lang and Vlase Nikoleski constantly surprise. Jill Stowell, Outbreak: School of Fine Arts Staff Exhibition, Newcastle Herald, 1999

His is an art of seduction and confrontation: he seduces us with his mastery of traditional drawing, painting and assemblage techniques, then confronts us with the uses to which these skills are put. In the two-dimensional works painted landscape elements are juxtaposed, disconcertingly, with old photos, feathers, bones and set of dentures, denying the viewer a purely aesthetic response. A series of three mixed-media sculpture, History Totems, reveal their meaning only after prolonged viewing. Take the time and be rewarded. Robert Birch, Exhibition: Nicholas Harding and Graham Lang, Newcastle Herald, 2001

The invasive nature of intensive and inappropriate agriculture is succinctly indicated by glittering photographic cut-outs of neat green fields arbitrarily glued to the tawny [landscapes]. Similar uneasy messages come from a series of sculptural installations precariously balancing European cultural baggage against a new national awareness. Ambiguity abounds in impassive heads breaking through the plaster in which they were cast. They are counterweighted by the spades, axes and, importantly, the books of European settlement. Jill Stowell, Changing Skies,  Newcastle Herald, 2001

While there are some splendidly moody paintings of infinite desert, where the escarpments crumble like geological surf, most of the recent works … concern the visual erosion of the human condition. Survivors surround us, hollow-eyed and sinewy antipodean refugees from the country explored by Patrick White … Both figures and landscape are rendered in transparent washes of oil pigment, creating an effect of flayed or x-rayed flesh, so that familiar forms are stripped back beyond the comfort levels. Jill Stowell, Exhibition: Visceral, Newcastle Herald, 2002

Few artists write novels, let alone good ones. Few, too, are as at home in paint as in sculpture. Graham Lang … is once again the visual poet of wide, windswept landscapes, their desolation often veiled in darkness. The same distant escarpments appear in a series of paintings of feral interloping animals. The cat, fox, bull and camel both sturdy and catastrophic. Ultimately, the gathering darkness and the threatening intruder come together in a nightmare image of fear, with the intensity of Goya’s rabid Titan. Jill Stowell, Exhibition: Feral Nocturne, Newcastle Herald, 2004

Lang's installation seeks to make this uneasy ghost visible: the weight of empire in the cast Britannia finial compresses and stunts the rough-hewn trunk, through which passes a delicately balanced wing-arm adorned with African fertility ornaments. The structure's resemblance to a shaduf recalls the simple technologies and sheer ingenuity that many colonial settlers required to survive, as well as suggesting the intimate connections between identity and the land. The accompanying figure, appearing from within its exfoliating mould, signals the inexorable process of emergence from the shadow of the past, witnessing the tentative but increasingly confident evolution of an independently Australian political and cultural identity. Mark Calderwood, Catalogue Essay, The Figure in Question, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, 2006

Graham Lang, Peter Speight, Peter Tilley and Trevor Weekes are all familiar names to Hunter art audiences. However, some of the work produced by these artists for The Figure in Question may surprise even their most ardent followers. Emergence by Graham Lang positions a male figure shedding plaster flesh and limbs opposite a timber contraption that resembles an African irrigation device. A metal mosquito dangles from the contraption threatening the helpless, limbless figure. Lang left his place of birth … amid the unrest of post-colonial change. The figure’s emergence in this work is indelibly tied to Africa. Lisa Slade, Exhibition: The Figure in Question, Newcastle Herald, 2006

There is a brooding and sombre quality to the lonely landscapes of Central Australia and this melancholy transfers to the figurative paintings of lone individuals such as the self-portrait with the mountain growing from his head. Although it may represent an indelible memory of a beloved time and place, it may also be suggesting a weight that keeps one shackled to the past. Clyde Selby, Animal Instincts, The Mercury Tasweekend, 2014

The strength of Graham Lang’s complex art lies in his avoidance of prescribed ideas … [His] most fascinating aspect as an artist is his willingness to allow his subconscious and dream life to mix into the rich sensation of a place to create work that … opens itself to myriad interpretations. Lang knows what he wants to say, and he says it with his work. The art arrives from a space outside of language, where dream is the currency of communication and everything has many meanings. The revelation is this work does not provide answers. It asks questions. Andrew Harper, Ever Questioning, Mercury Tasweekend, 2018

Lang walks the tightrope between existence and extinction, resulting in a disquieting sense of existential isolation ... Nick Truman, Phantasm Gallery Review 2020

He navigates a delirious, strange inner landscape with his strong and very singular painting style that is both striking in its hard definition and yet opaque, translucent and dreamlike. Lang has a wild ability to render human faces and figures that really lure the eye in, and he manages to cover everything he paints with a sensation of persuasive enigma and otherworldliness. It's a terrific balance between subject matter and technique, as if his method of working has allowed him to just pour his subconscious onto the image's surface.. Andrew Harper Tasweekend, Oct 3-4, 2020

Graham Lang's new show at Despard Gallery offers mythic imaginings that are reminiscent of Giacometti's metal flesh and Arthur Boyd's biblical explorations ... Lang's exhibition reconciles as it disrupts, revealing hybrid forms, not only of being, but of art itself. Aleks Wansbrough, Artist Profile, 20/03/2023

Lang deals with enigma and ambiguity, asking massive questions about existence ... Of special note are Lang's sculptures - these are as strong as his painted efforts and share the same esoteric beauty that makes Lang so distinctive. Lang may never find what he seeks but his journey is engrossing, and each report from his investigations is filled with rare revelation. Andrew Harper Tasweekend, March 18-19, 2023