1st November – 25th November 2017
Independent curator Zara Collins presents new work from four Australian painters in the exhibition Aesthetic Uncertainties. Taking landscape as a common point of departure each artist uses the medium of paint to express something innately personal: an experience, a journey, a memory, a dream.
Artists Madeleine Cruise, David Collins, Ondine Seabrook and Zuza Zochowski invite the viewer to look through their subjective observations to comprehend their experiences of ‘place’ and to see something subtle, precious and ephemeral in the context of a busy contemporary world.
I am interested in the vagaries of abstract painting and the tension between what the artist chooses to obscure and reveal in their work. The way artists pass the familiar through abstract filters to diffuse imagery - and how the viewer wishes to understand the intangible to reveal something recognisable. However, not all abstract painting is based on the dissemination of imagery and in this exhibition we unravel the works of four Australian painters with idiosyncratic sensibilities.
For many artists, the immediate environment can have a profound effect on their art practise. The dramatic Illawarra escarpment and coastline has been a predominant feature in Zuza Zochowski’s plein-air paintings for many years. Zochowski’s paintings straddle the divide between the immediately identifiable and the enigmatic. For anyone well acquainted with the landscape north of Wollongong, she encapsulates the changing light and form of her environment with minimal brush strokes. Zochowski’s skill as a painter lies in her talent for capturing ever-changing elements within the landscape, gently reminding the viewer that nothing in nature is permanent.
Ondine Seabrook’s paintings use negative space to great effect, emphasizing the vastness of the Australian environments she chooses to paint. Panoramas of amplified desert colours and spindly lines entice the viewer with their gestural personality. Her deep affection for the Australian landscape is well communicated through her artworks – signs of erasure and concealment reveal the process of their making, unmaking and remaking. Familiarising herself with the landscape is just the start of her process, the act of painting itself steering her colour and mark-making choices. Colour is at the heart of her work where the representational image of the landscape pales in comparison to the feeling and memory of being there – Seabrook’s gift lies in her ability to intuitively articulate the immaterial for her audience.
Characterised by bold use of colour and a strong graphic quality, Madeleine Cruise’s paintings transform the everyday with swirling fields of paint. Vibrant brushstrokes of sapphire blue contend with flushed pinks and buttery yellows. References have been absorbed and cross pollinated before they are created on canvas. Each painting captures the energy and momentum of her process. One can easily imagine her painting with strength of purpose and great gusto in her Newcastle studio. There is an undeniable vigour in Cruises’ work and her aptitude for saturating her finished pieces with power and intensity is what makes her paintings so alluring.
Like Seabrook and Zochowski, David Collins’ paintings and drawings are inspired by the landscape. His paintings capture the movement and temperament of waterways with expressive lyricism. Much of Collins’ work is inspired by the Hawkesbury River, estuaries and waterways near his home. Another essential component to his practice is travelling and re-acquainting himself with other environments of natural beauty. There is a subtle convergence of form, colour and light in Collins’ paintings that illustrate his ability to catch shifting reflections on the water’s surface, shadows thrown on land or sun skipping over moving water. Keen powers of observation are ever- present in Collins’ work; his ability to capture ephemeral, fleeting moments so eloquently is what gives his paintings their magic.
Taking landscape as a common point of departure each artist in Aesthetic Uncertainties uses the medium of paint to express something innately personal: an experience, a journey, a memory. Artists Collins, Cruise, Seabrook and Zochowski invite us to look through their subjective observations to comprehend their experiences of ‘place’ and to see something subtle, precious and ephemeral in the context of a busy contemporary world.
"My work always begins as a response to what I see around me, effects of light, linear elements in the landscape, unusual colour relationships.
As a picture develops the relationships within it become my primary focus and the application of each mark, tone or colour becomes a dialogue with all that have gone before it."
Download David Collins CV 2017 (PDF)
Madeleine Cruise is an emerging artist who creates sensational objects and abstract images that explore emotional experience in contemporary life. Driven by a desire to make complex situations tangible, her work investigates such themes as sexuality, relationships and social status, within a personal and broader social context. In a creative process that explores material equivalents between painting and sculpture, madeleine creates immersive sensual and tactile environments for contemplation.
Download Madeleine Cruise CV 2017 (PDF)
Ondine Seabrook's work comes from the Australian landscape, which has been embedded in her growing up around Pittwater on Sydney's northern beaches and going on regular camping trips and treks around Australia. She starts her process from either small simple studies done out bush or quick paint sketches done in her Sydney studio from memory of a recent trip. Ondine then begins to build her work up in the studio, through spontaneous process her work becomes more abstract, stylised and about favoured colour, gestural marks and wonky shapes. She is cautious not to objectify the Australian landscape in a traditional European way and instead offer up a whimsical yet grounded feel. Sometimes, through honouring process she lets her work become completely abstract, simply embracing the qualities of the paint and the act of painting. The landscape is always an important starting point. Her recent work has formed from the central Australian desert.
Download Ondine Seabrook CV 2017 (PDF)
Zuza Zochowski’s artworks investigate her immediate surroundings from her daily walks in her local urban surroundings as well as interior still lifes of her newly settled home. To quote Willem De Kooning ‘Content is a glimpse of something, an encounter like a flash,’ Zochowski’s paintings resemble a similar quality by capturing momentary passages of time before nature modifies the original glance.
Until recently, Zochowski’s practise in painting has continually been reliant on the photograph as reference material. Her subjects have been based on her surroundings, particularly on travels, and specific moments in time. Zochowski’s practice has developed to painting from life and questioning how to personally translate her visual experience into an image.
The change in her method of painting has made her aware and immediate to different aspects within landscape. Zochowski’s developed awareness has focused on contrasts, solid and fluid shapes, harsh and soft light, dense and light colours. Working mainly with watercolour, Zochowski depicts her immediate surroundings by using loose yet deliberate brushstrokes which immediately stain the paper. Her images stay away from major detail and are composed of humble shapes using tone and colour to shift perspective which leave the viewer guessing for more.
Zuza Zochowski lives in the Illawarra area and is a teacher at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre. She has been a finalist in several prestigious awards including the Portia Geach Memorial Award, Willoughby Art Prize (First Prize for Painting), Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award and most recently the Wollongong Contemporary Watercolour Prize (Commended) and the Parliament Plein Air Prize.
Download Zuza Zochowski CV 2017 (PDF)