Spalding – Gesundheit
9th March – 9th April 2016
Stanley Street Gallery is excited to announce the second exhibition of new paintings by Spalding.
Spalding’s paintings immerse viewers in the windswept and weather-beaten landscape of the Snowy Mountains, as dense mist and snow give way to twisted gums and scrub.
“I am inspired by the clarity of light at altitude and the quality of the air. The higher you climb the more vivid the colours become and the landscape has a very broad palette. In many ways the name ‘Snowy Mountains’ seems inadequate to describe a place with such environmental diversity and cultural history”. Spalding
Fascinated with capturing Australia’s mountain landscape as he experiences it, Spalding feels the landscape through his paintings. Up on the worn peaks of our ancient mountain ranges, he observes the intense colours of high altitudes through the sharp, clear light of the mountain air.
After the devastating fires that burnt through the Kosciuszko region in 2003, Spalding began collecting the charcoal remnants of trees and using these to draw the burnt scenes before him. Since then, Spalding has incorporated natural elements from the land for his rendering of it, hand-grinding rocks to extract grey, brown and red ochres, and collecting sticks and leaves to furrow incisions in the paint.
There is a pleasing circularity to Spalding’s exploration of the landscape, as the pigments come to represent the land of their origin, and by cutting through thick layers of paint Spalding revisits the drawings at the heart of his works. This becomes a tactile link back to sketches made whilst out experiencing the land.
Through his large scale works, Spalding envelopes viewers in the wild beauty of Lake Jindabyne and the Kosciuszko ranges by drawing us into his sense of place.
The exclamatory exhibition title Gesundheit, or ‘to your health,’ heralds each sneeze provoked by the process of binding natural pigments with gum turpentine and linseed oil, and wittily reflects the experiential nature of Spalding’s approach to his subject. After living in Austria for a number of years and returning to Australia with his Austrian wife, Spalding feels a strong connection with the German language. Beyond the whimsy of its reference the title forms a heartfelt homage to the distinctive qualities of the Australian alpine landscape. As a toast to its sculptural eucalypts, forceful sou’westerly winds and unusual wildlife, this exhibition forges an experiential union between canvas and country.
Text by Susannah Smith
Please click to view the Catalogue for Gesundheit
Born 15 August 1958
Spalding lives in the Snowy Mountains of Australia. His artwork is strongly influenced by the majestic and raw beauty of the alpine environment, capturing the spirit of the mountains and the constantly changing colour and light.
Spalding graduated from the Bendigo Art School, Victoria in 1979 where he attended classes at the gallery school with Fred Williams.
“We spent time at the ANU and RMIT as well, being a country art school we were billeted around in the cities. It was a really cool experience as Melbourne was a happening place with roar studio artist run exhibitions just starting to get some traction”. Spalding
After 1982, Spalding lived and worked in Europe for the next ten years where he studied the masters and was involved in symposiums and took part in exhibitions in central Europe. His works from this period are to be found in many private collections throughout Germany, Austria and Holland. In spite of his long periods spent overseas, Spalding’s paintings are devoid of the picturesque images that many are accustomed to in the European tradition; his interpretation of the alpine environment is uniquely Australian.
Snow is a constant theme in Spalding’s painting, he captures the vast and unforgiving nature of the alpine region in some of his works, in others he incorporates humor in his playful portraits of skiing in Australia.
Spalding was the Thredbo Ski School Director from 1994-2006 and is now the owner/operator of Thredbo Valley Distillery on the road to Thredbo. He feels a great sense of connection to the landscape of the mountains and the people who live and visit there.
In 1994, Spalding’s painting Old Friends won first prize in the ‘Roof Top of Australia’ exhibition in Thredbo NSW and again in 1995 when his painting Main Range won the contemporary section. His innovation can be seen in the creative nature of his works, some of which feature in prominent locations around the Thredbo Village.
In 2000 Spalding’s portrait of Stuart Diver was selected for the Archibald Salon. In 2007 he held a solo show at the Arthouse Hotel, Pitt St, Sydney and in 2009 he exhibited at Moulton Galleries, Mosman. In 2014 Spalding’s held his first very successful exhibition with Stanley Street Gallery called Melt.