A different direction for Australian landscape painting

Artist Critique, Artwork Crtique, Blogs

Lessons from Australian Impressionism taking to lines and abstract application

Anyone looking at this artist’s work roughly a decade ago, would have predcited a safe journey through the well-trodden path of traditional Australian Impressionist painting. This is not to say that it doesn’t have a place in contemporary Australia, because the number of artists inspired by this genre proves that there is a market for paintings produced usng the same topics and methods as they were over a century ago.

The regular high profile exhibitions at galleries like the NGV in Melbourne also prove that the public wants to see such works, especially by the high profile artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There is a however coming though, and that is that whilst an artist may be drawn to and inspired by the Heidelberg School artists and their often overlook peers (another blog about that some other time), there is more than emulating that can be used as homage and inspiration.

As a recent example, the artist in question (who shall remain nameless for this story) has taken lessons from the Australian and French Impressionists and gradually worked their way from emulating, to homaging, to an exploration of the “bare bones” of the Australian landscape, using what they have learnt to underpin their new work, but not govern it. I will give an example. The palette is similar but not copied from various women Impressionist artists, the topic of the Australian landscape is the same, but these and other methods are taken in a new direction, to look under the surface and explore what it is that draws a viewer’s eye into and around a painting.

Rather than form and familiar shapes, abstract lines using tone, temperature and understanding of colour theory to describe in a new way the contours that make up a scene. Not like Fred Williams exactly, but also inspired by his reduction of the landscape, and not quite like John Wolseley who uses line, colour and form along with abstract washes of paint, this artist has endeavoured to take her art from the familiar to the unknown in an effort to “see” the land and her art from a new perspective.

In these early steps, the work can easily be criticised for a certain amount of hesitancy and lack of distinct direction, but I consider that normal as any artist takes on experimental and challenging forms of expressing their aesthetic sensibilities. I will, therefore, leave it open for others to praise or refute as they see fit, with my final thought that the direction taken by this artist is challenging and unique, indicating what I think is lost in a lot of Postmodernist visual art, a degree of originality.

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