Colin Colahan, who first studied mediscine, was later a student at the Max Meldrum School, absorbing his teacher's emphasis on objective vision and the importance of tonal values. (In 1917 he edited Max Meldrum, His Art and Views, which promulgated the theories of his teacher.) A foundation member of the Australian Academy of Art, Colahan also worked as an official war artist with the Australian forces in England in 1942, and remained in the U.K. after the war. He moved to Italy in 1958, where he stayed until his death in 1987. Colahan's career changed when his main interest became sculpture, although he resumed painting in 1976.
STILL LIFE, VASE OF ROSES, undated, is a sensitive work, full of subtlety in its exploration of the range of colours. This luscious painting shows Colahan's strong adherence to the tonal naturalistic manner of his early teacher, Meldrum. The impression of solidity created by the use of some deeper background colours is offset by the soft drapery and the lighter adjacent wall, emphasising the stunning blooms and decorative vases in the centre of the painting. Colahan's chiaroscuro produces a true visual sensation, without any impact of the personality of the artist, whose only message is a song of beauty.