The Listener, Kevin Ireland. “Sydney is our most genuinely ‘local’ artist, in the single sense that the subjects of his portraits, nudes and landscapes are the people and places he lives among, in Dunedin and Central Otago. Yet in no way is his vision blinkered or provincial. His technical methods and skills belong to a traditionthat derives directly from the discoveries and refinements of the great studios of the Renaissance, and many of his finest paintings aim ambitiously at ‘universal’ questions or statements.
Sydney, more than any other contemporary New Zealand painter I can think of imposes attitudes that I believe derive directly from meditation and poetic perception. Though his realism employs a breathtaking range of formal techniques, it has outgrown conscious adherence to a set of academic precepts and instead obeys the ‘literal’ requirements of a personal response to particular places and occasions.
His paintings are full of mood, association and speculation; they are brilliant and allusive commentaries on life. The Art of Grahame Sydney offers a wonderful introduction to them.”