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Indepth Arts News:

"New Painting in Australia: Phenomena"
2001-06-22 until 2001-08-12
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Sydney, , AU Australia

The first in a series of three annual exhibitions organised by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, New Painting in Australia: Phenomena will survey current painting practice by leading artists from around Australia – some familiar names, others not so well known. The exhibitions will highlight the relevance of Australian painting to contemporary culture at the beginning of the new millennium.

From the enormous variety of different painters and painting styles currently seen in Australia, the curator has selected a group of fourteen artists who are breaking new grounds in their careers with some of their best works to date. All are individuals, not part of a defined school, yet all share a concern for painting more than just a simulation of what is seen by the eye. Above all, they are concerned with notions of poetry and beauty which can be appreciated over and above their conceptual concerns.

One of the artists in the exhibition, Howard Taylor, lives and works amongst the giant karri forests in the far south of Western Australia. While at first glance his work looks abstract, from closer viewing, you get something akin to the feeling of being in the land. In contrast to this, another Western Australian artist, Cathy Blanchflower, has painted brightly coloured paintings that create an optical illusion of shifting patterns that simulate the feeling of being constantly bombarded by visual stimuli such as television, advertising and flashing lights

Some of the artists reflect a more spiritual approach to the phenomena of living; Jennifer Joseph, for instance combines her interest in Buddhist Philosophy with her knowledge of Western art to make very poetic statements about acceptance and impermanence. Painting on well-worn tea chest lids, she allows the marks, stamps and scratches on the wood to tell a story about the appreciation and acceptance of the past in the present.

Other artists use compositional devises that equate with more general phenomena within our society. For instance, the deliberate imbalance in Stephen McCarthy’s painting are a reflection of the artists perception of imbalance in society and likewise, the ‘out of register’ central line dividing two seemingly identical patterns on a single canvas in Debra Dawes’ work, reflects her perception of this inability in our society to meet on common ground.

New Painting in Australia: Phenomena invites the audience to look at seemingly abstract painting and experience a feeling from them without presupposing any experience or knowledge of Contemporary art.

Howard Taylor
Discovery, 2000
oil on marine ply,
200 x 190 x 36cm
courtesy of the artist and Galerie Dusseldorf, Perth

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