“The modern interpretation of the landscape, figure, abstraction, light and space” is the title of the last exhibition of the cycle “Australia in Valjevo”. This group show was inaugurated on July 7, 2012. Oil paintings, works on wooden panels, mixed media on paper, installations, objects and a video projection were presented by academic artists from Sydney and Melbourne: Anne Kwasner, Elyss McCleary, Carmen Reid, Mignon Steel, Natalie McCarthy and Tania Smith.
The exhibition is designed to demonstrate the diverse approach artists use to explore ideas, evident in the broad array of styles this show has to offer.
Themes include contemporary interpretations of landscape and the figure to more abstract representations of structure, space and light. The work is underpinned with a strong practice of mark making and a common aesthetic for the appreciation of beauty. The intimate quality of the work prevails from the ability of the artist to engage the imagination in response to a world that is in a state of constant flux and chaos. Each of these artists consciously partaking in the positive act of making art as a statement to the belief that true power comes from within. Armed with one’s chosen art medium, the power of the visual is employed to communicate the human experience.
These six ladies from Australia have shown to successfully deal with post-modern artistic creativity, and conceptualism, which is an attempt to create new art. The combination of traditional and conceptual, in this exhibition is very much visible.
Combining her beautifully crafted paper-mache objects and drawing in her installation Lost Souls, Anne Kwasner explores the notion of dislocation, memory and the melancholy of displacement. A collection of miss-matched objects lies inside a wire suitcase or discarded nearby to suggest a narrative of travel, childhood innocence and loss. The tenderly drawn images and details that decorate them, beckon one to reconstruct the journey that may have brought them there.
Elyss McCleary’s mixed media paintings cross over to the region of drawing to explore similar themes of time and memory. The Etched Pinks and Violent Word have been constructed from layers of art-making history combined with intuitively structured compositions and words. For the collage works she considers “de-collage” McCleary amalgamates pieces of found paper with colour and line. Here she manages to make carefully constructed images look seemingly spontaneous and accidental, reminiscent of something one might come across on a building wall or street path. Although abstract in representation their tactile appeal connects deep into the unconscious to draw a sense of something familiar and tangible.
Similarly Carmen Reid’s installations and drawings explore tensions between physical states and mental concepts, with an underlining narrative. Drawing on architecture and imagined places, the forms represented in this work have been created to form a dialogue between the Australian and Serbian landscape. Taking inspiration from the monuments of former Yugoslavia and colonial ruins of the Australian she has created miniature renditions in her Sentinels. For the drawings the forms have been placed in the context of their environment, monumental in their origins, they echo the ever-changing eroding mountains that surround them. With the inevitability of passing time and changing values the forms are a slow state of transition and slowly returning to the earth.
Using the medium of paint Mignon Steele essentially takes inspiration from nature. Steele boldly structures paint in an intuitive, poetic manner to contemplate ideas drawn from nature, science and her environment. Her response and thoughts are translated into the building of surface, mark making and colour. The viewer is invited to be part of this journey with the layers of translucent paint she chooses to reveal and the marks, shapes and symbols she includes. For Night Paddock a luminous sky and imagery suggests dreams of romance and a country lifestyle.
Taking a very different approach Natalie McCarthy’s landscapes focus on describing the transition of light and space to evoke a spiritual connection with nature and sense of place. Inspired by recent move to the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Natalie’s works depicts varying elements of vast mountain wilderness and skies. Painted as she remembered it, standing with the scene before one, the observer’s eye is lead through to experience the beauty and strangeness offered by the view. Translucent layers of paint describe how the light transforms the landscape with the shift of time.
Tania Smith uses video media and performance to describe images of lightness, absurdity and humor as a response to rigidity, boundaries and tension. Filmed on the Victorian coastline, the work Untitled#5 features a lone female figure stealing a moment of pleasure seen on a loop projection. In luscious pink drapery she twirls in a private ritual seemingly at odds from the public environment in which she is placed. Smith plays on the paradox between the visual appeal of the pink fabric and twirling spectacle and the anxiety endured by the figures repetition and isolation.
At the opening ceremony, two guests-artists Elyss McCleary and Natalie McCarthy addressed to the numerous visitors and thanked the Studio’s staff for the excellent organization and conveyed greetings of other artists who unfortunately were not able to visit Valjevo and Serbia this time.
As for the musical part, audience enjoyed the concert performed by the students of the local Music High School. Clarinetist Dejan Antonijevic and flutist Zorana Belušević have played a “Capricho” for flute and clarinet by composer Ante Grgin.