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Rountree Tryon opening, drinks, and talk: 13 June 2023




A video of the opening of Rountree Tryon show opening, with a talk by Paul Augustinus on his ongoing "Refugia" series of paintings.

Press Release: To stay sane in the face of massive degradation and biodiversity loss Paul Augustinus has embarked on a series of paintings that depict the wilderness in a new way – as refugia and a hope for regrowth sometime in the future. For Paul “nature” is humanity’s legacy and we need to record it as best we can for future generations. Art, alongside film and books, must play a role in this recording. Paul Augustinus compelling paintings of nature, including the Congo River Basin, document nature for humanity as a legacy of hope. The Rountree Tryon Galleries currently has a group exhibition showing three of these paintings at Gallery 8, St James, London. Paul has spent his entire working life as an artist painting and living in the wilderness and with the wildlife of the Africa. He sees wilderness as a natural resource, because without wilderness, much of the worlds clean water, clean air and food would not exist. Wilderness areas are where bio-diversity exists such as the Congo River Basin, where Paul spent many months, or northern Botswana, where he spent many years. His art has bona fide because he has lived what he paints. One of the benefits of this bona fide is awareness. And that awareness has allowed him to see what is happening to the natural world. He has embarked on a series of paintings that depict the wilderness in a new way – as refugia. By definition 'Refugia' describe island-like tracts of land where circumstances have allowed species to survive after extinction in surrounding areas. At the Rountree Tryon you can see some of his Refugia Series of paintings. This new series of paintings is his homage to wilderness and those special ‘Refugia’ areas of Africa which he hopes are going to be crucial for the survival of the majority of natural habitats and the wild, and the living things that inhabit them. His rainforest leopard and the Chobe river landscape paintings are part of that series. And both paintings depict Refugia. The Chobe river scene is a potential future Refugia locality. The Rainforest leopard depicts an ancient natural Refugia locality. The origins of the vast Congo basin rainforests that we know today are a product of two ancient natural refugia. During the last Ice Age, the Congo basin was mostly Savanna and desert. But within this basin there were two Refugia areas thought to be just a few hundred square kilometres each, which were treasure houses of incredible biodiversity. At the end of the Ice Age these expanded outwards and by roughly 8000 years ago, recolonizing the Congo basin and become the vast equatorial rain forest belt of today, stretching from West Africa to the Rwenzori Mountains in East Africa. Paul believes that the natural history of the world is now about to repeat it self in a very unnatural way. Human encroachment on to the last remaining areas of wilderness, exacerbated by the rapid human induced climate change, is now taking place. He hopes that any present day potential refugia will be useful in that unknowable future when humankind has begun to reverse the environmental catastrophe we are now experiencing. Paul wants his paintings to be a visual and emotional definition of these future refugia locations where bio diversity will be protected in Africa at least, for that future moment in the history of humanity , when the refugia are allowed to expand outwards again.

Detail from a Paul Augustinus painting.
Paul Augustinus painting of a leopard portrait - late evening glow.