Casting a canny and at times scathing eye over religious power, ritual and philosophical authority, David Beaumont’s remarkable series of paintings are as unnerving as they are hilarious.

David Beaumont’s paintings offer a rigorous, and often uncomfortable investigation into the idiosyncrasies of religion and philosophy. Confronting the improbable aspects of religion and philosophy, Beaumont employs an acerbic wit to re-examine biblical events such as Christ’s resurrection and Lot’s escape from Sodom. Beaumont’s brief, almost incidental painting technique lays bare the ambiguities and assumptions prevalent within Western religion and philosophy.

In works like Jesus and Nietzsche Catch Up for a Beer (2009) Beaumont normalises his subject matter, placing these two opposing philosophical figures in an unlikely dialogue with each other in a way that is disarmingly frank. Beaumont’s sketchy, rudimentary use of line and colour lend the works an honesty and brutality that allows him to probe deeper into this ordinarily problematic terrain. Here, the great names – Jesus, Nebuchadnezzar, Joachim, Salome - are not presented as idealized personas from classic myths, but portrayed as everyday beings in contemporary context, with a healthy overlay of black humour and everyday irony.

With many of his works drawing on subjects covered by iconic painters such as Caravaggio, Blake, Gentileschi, Goya, Rembrandt, Tiepolo, Tintoretto and Velasquez, this series of works can also be seen as a contemporary rethinking of these age-old themes.

This exhibition marked the first time that Beaumont exhibited his figurative work in Melbourne, and offered audiences a rare opportunity to engage with a curious, impudent and often hilarious examination of the frameworks of Western Society.