Summer - RenewalAnnabel Butler, Janet Dawson, Viola Dominello, Ashley Frost, Steve Lopes, Corinne Loxton & Tiziana Tringali
4 February - 29 February 2020
At this moment our thoughts are with those impacted by the bushfires scorching our homeland. This has been a summer that has given us all pause for thought. As an Australian gallery who represents Australian artists, we would like to offer up a selection of works that speak to the artists experience of an Australian summer, with the desire to regain natural balance we’ve taken for granted and hope of regrowth and renewal. The practice of plein air painting, and landscape painting brings with it an appreciation of the unique beauty and qualities this country offers. Each artist strives to capture something vivid and precious in their work.
ANNABEL BUTLER’s painterly landscape vignettes evoke the dry heat and strong light of and Australian summer in Sydney’s Centennial Park. Painting en plein air, BUTLER has worked on the small 9x5 format in the tradition of the Heidelberg School.
JANET DAWSON’s ongoing desire to explore and expose the resonance of a place emerges through her pastel drawings and watercolours of, often, rural Australian landscapes and the everyday of her still-life.
VIOLA DOMINELLO finds inspiration near her home in and around the Hawkesbury and the hinterlands. Working en plein air she captures and instant of changing light and tone. Through painterly gestures DOMINELLO’s practice is imbued with a sensitivity that reveals moments of intricate and transient beauty of the landscape. Her current work observes the effects of the current soaring temperature and drought conditions in and around the Hawkesbury. The high key palette captures the harsh light and crackling heat of summer in this region.
Painting at the turning points of the day ASHLEY FROST’s works capture the sublime transition of early morning or evening dusk light. Fluid in form and composition, His paintings engage with the relationship between bodies of water and vast skies and their otherworldly evocations of light through a vivid and viscous palette.
Also painting en plein air, STEVE LOPES offers up a brief summer oasis in his latest coastal studies. His energetic paintings of the vast beach at low tide, seaside cliffs and rocky plains, and the native pandanus tree along the coastline radiate with the heat of the day and the promise of cool relief from the sea. The figures in these landscapes are nameless, featureless and fully immersed in their surrounds.
CORINNE LOXTON’s focus is often on the sky and its transient light, colour and form; uncontrollable and ephemeral. Her paintings recognise the potential for both beauty and harshness through her depictions of land and sky amidst the devastation of the bushfires; a familiar scene during a hot, dry Australian summer. Other works suggest promise and hope for the artist through their cool, soft palette and golden hues of the sky at the break of dawn.
TIZIANA TRINGALI probes the beautiful and the cruel aspects of our natural environment; ultimately seeking to celebrate nature. Her work is romantic and minimalist in style, with nods to Chinese traditions of watercolour landscape painting. These works reflect the artists perception of the landscape, aiming to be sufficiently abstract to provoke observer’s perception of the natural environment. TRINGALI plays on contrast of light and dark, evoking the wind, position, and movement in the landscape through the brushwork. Her works embody the sense of place and the human desire for connection to the environment.
Kintsugi IIAnoma Wijewardene
3 March - 18 April 2020
Over the past twenty years Sri Lankan artist, ANOMA WIJEWARDENE’s oeuvre has consistently grappled with crucial issues of our time. Her art practice has centred around themes of sustainability and inclusivity; with particular focus on the earth’s climate crisis, and ever-present issues of coexistence, diversity and unity. The works in Kintsugi II embody the artist’s passionate concern and provide a metaphorical response to these global, yet deeply personally felt issues.
Kintsugi (“golden joinery”, also known as Kintsukroi, “golden repair”) is based on the Japanese art of pottery restoration by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. Similar to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi (an embracing of the flawed or imperfect), Kintsugi treats breakage and repair as a part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. ANOMA embraces Kintsugi as both a methodology and a philosophy in her works as she searches for harmony and renewal in a turbulent, entropic world. Her material practice is layered and eclectic. A collaged mix of smooth, translucent, plant-based vellum paper against rough, recycled more organic papers are torn and layered. These, often amoebic, yet human-shaped voids, provide small windows and glimpses onto her depictions which are at once both figurative and abstracted. Vivid paintings and underdrawings of humanoid figures are shown traversing abstracted fields of colour. They appear isolated and self-reflective in moments of quietude; shrouded and obscured through layers they are yearning to re-connect with their surroundings and each other.
ANOMA celebrates rather than disguises the flawed and the broken through a flurry of layered materials and imagery. She contends that her work is a response to the increasing normalization of unconscionable intolerance, hatred and the crises unleashed by war, poverty and climate crisis, when she writes:
“As the desperate seek security and survival, societies are wounded, people are broken physically, emotionally, psychologically. We all yearn for healing whether it is in Sri Lanka, Christchurch, London, Damascus or Australia… Art inspires us to rise from the shards of our shattered lives, to rebuild and heal; and reflect upon our common humanity in the face of conflict, religious fervour, and human insecurity. It invites us to accept shared stewardship of our fragile planet.”
The poetry accompanying the work is by the acclaimed and finalist in the Man Booker Prize in 1994, Sri Lankan writer, ROMESH GUNESEKERA, who has specifically composed these words for the art, combining fragments of poetry and prose in a single unified poem. A monograph book, printed in Singapore, includes 200 images alongside five essays and contributions from several renowned writers. It documents the process with images from her sketchbooks, collectors’ details, a biography and chronology.
ANOMA WIJEWARDENE is an alumna of Central Saint Martins College, University of Arts, London. She was the first Sri Lankan solo artist invited to show at the European Cultural Council, during the 58th Venice Biennale 2019, and has amassed international recognition for her works spanning five decades. She has had several international exhibitions in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Her works was featured on the cover of British Vogue 1974 and she has exhibited in 2016 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery.
Another Natural PerspectiveDeirdre Bean
21 April - 31 May 2020
Internationally recognised for her intricate botanical illustrations, DEIRDRE BEAN takes her attention to detail to another level. DEIRDRE’s fine, scientifically accurate drawings taken from life have been painstakingly developed over extended periods of time. As she works, she develops an intimate relationship with her subjects over many hours of close inspection.
Although DEIRDRE BEAN draws directly on her experience as a natural history illustrator, she maintains a subtle, yet rich layering of meaning in the compositions or her watercolours. DEIRDRE carefully and thoughtfully pairs her botanicals with a series of companion pieces; objects imbued with personal, familial and sometimes broader cultural meanings and associations. The pairing of objects within these still life contexts, see family history and natural history combined. Here, the perspective shifts and away from a purely classical botanical and scientific one and evolves and merges into the realm of storytelling imbued with both personal and cultural significance.
The combination of natural world objects with human manufactured objects leads to what DEIRDRE BEAN refers to as uncommon portraits. At a glance they are peculiar combinations; antique spoons sit beside specimens of intricate flowers, a bright red-orange persimmon sits complementary to a fine blue china cup. On closer inspection these quizzical combinations reflect the artist’s nostalgia. The botanical specimens; where they were collected, personal daily associations and childhood memories all hold meaning beyond the purely scientific. Both the botanical specimen and companion still life object play off each other whether seemingly complimentary or contradictory.
The companion pieces in these still life compositions become small windows into the artist’s life and memories.
In one particular watercolour, the beautifully rendered persimmon was actually harvested by her partner from a tree on his property, as has been deftly illustrated on the blue and white porcelain cup within the composition.
In another work a small, fresh branch of eucalyptus leaves is placed beside an old, battered and rusting enamel cup in an iconic mint green with blue rim. A cultural staple and a durable and enduring icon of Australian life in the bush, and experiences of travel and camping with roughed up enamel cups of tea. In these ways DEIRDRE BEAN is able to bring her fine illustrative style, and skilled traditional botanical painting methods into a fresh contemporary practice inspired by the natural world.
Artists in IsolationJanet Dawson, Ashley Frost, Rod Holdaway, Steve Lopes & Ian Marr
9 June - 25 July 2020
Solitude has often been a natural state for artists to flourish. For many, it is a choice and a way to retreat and focus on making art and the generation of ideas. This time of global pandemic, and an age of social distancing and self-isolation has meant a great shift in the way we engage socially and within both our public and private spaces. Despite many artists’ penchant for solitude, these shifts to isolation have greatly impacted the ways artists have been engaging with their art. Artists in Isolation showcases the works of JANET DAWSON, ASHLEY FROST, ROD HOLDAWAY, STEVE LOPES and IAN MARR and reveals how their art practices have continued and even evolved over this time of pandemic induced isolation.
JANET DAWSON’s ongoing desire to explore and expose the resonance of a place emerges in her works of the coastal landscape in Southern Victoria where she now lives. Her small pastel plein air drawings depict her home in the quiet dawn hours. A small painting depicting a bustling street scene of people outside a supermarket highlights the day-to-day public social interactions once taken for granted. ASHLEY FROST’s move to abstraction, and the drive to create this series of abstract paintings comes from a combination of lockdown, cancelled exhibitions and long isolation. Frost feels he is once again painting for himself rather than focusing on creating outcome orientated artwork. He refers to the term Fluffism; coined by like-minded artists to express this return to painting as a flow of creative consciousness. A return to an indulgent dimension of ‘fluffing around’, the Fluffist still maintains the conventions of colour theory, compositional elements and linear spatial relationships within the work. For FROST, this crisis induced shift and temporary movement away from painting for audience and expectation has been missed.
ROD HOLDAWAY's paintings have often reflected the transmutable and elusive nature of social interactions in public spaces. They encourage reflection upon the social constructs and contracts that underpin much of human behaviour in an exposed social context. Isolation has meant these public spaces that are typically the subject of HOLDAWAY’s work have been regularly void of people. This is seen in his recent drawings of public places such as Heazlett Park at Avoca. In these figureless landscapes, groupings of trees take on a haunting human likeness. These particular drawings are made digitally through an iPad; analogous to the ways people have adapted in order to engage with each other and the outside world during this pandemic. An avid traveller and plein air painter, STEVE LOPES finds his practice confined to his home studio during pandemic isolation. His paintings still reflect a yearning for travel and engagement with the landscape. Lopes situates his figures within landscapes at points of solitude and contemplation. The figures appear huddled, downcast and introspective. There is melancholic refrain in this series, as each figure appears disengaged from both their broader surroundings and the audience. IAN MARR’s panoramic paintings capture vast, uninterrupted, and rambling landscapes. Living rurally as a farmer has meant his isolation experience is comparatively less claustrophobic compared to those in urban locations. Depictions of these expansive vistas from the artists perspective looking out from indoor and domestic spaces speaks to this separation from the wider world. Glints of copper peak through MARR’s warm colour palette of these landscapes; appropriately twinkling and glowing with promise and allure as they catch the light.
** There will not be an opening event for this exhibition due to the current and necessary pandemic measures. All are welcome to visit the exhibition during our open hours, as well as view the exhibition online and through our social media channels.