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INTRODUCTION

The work of these Arnhem Land artists highlights for us that the artistic response to light and atmosphere entails an exploration of ephemerality itself. Rosalie Gascoigne works with the inherent fluorescence of discarded retro-reflective road-signs to embody the volatile combustive energy of fire. Gretchen Albrecht stains raw canvas in washes of incandescent colour, poured, dripped and pooled across the weave of the linen to record the memory of an incendiary sunset. Others, including Cory Surprise and Elizabeth Nyumi, embrace the expressive freedom of the painterly gesture to suggest both the changing light and vast panorama of open landscape. By contrast Howard Taylor shows us the subtlety to be found in the most fugitive of visual phenomena. In one image we see the orb of the sun, diffuse to the point of translucence, as perceived through the haze of bushfire. In another, our attention is drawn to the fine grain of shadow cast by the fragment of weathered wood in the light-filled space of the artist’s studio. Taylor is as much concerned with the containment of light and shadow as he is with depicting form and volume as we observe it in space and interpret it through the substance of paint.

At a symbolic level, the suggestion is of transcendence and infinitude. By introducing the additional element of scale, it becomes possible to take this intimation of transcendence further still, creating immersive optical environments where not just the eye and the mind are brought into an active engagement with the canvas, the full body is too. Dale Frank works with the viscosity and optical brilliance of liquid aluminium, pouring it across a vast canvas in layers of varying translucence and opacity. Debra Dawes and Karl Wiebke calibrate precise arrangements of pattern and colour to play out over extended compositions that saturate the eye with oscillating light. When viewed from different distances and angles, their surfaces generate a tessellation of reflected light in continual flux. With Siné MacPherson’s Lexical spectrum paintings, the colour play is twofold

Yet it is the perceptual experience itself that is

as she transposes every chromatic reference

brought to the fore when optical phenomena

in the dictionary into bars of corresponding

become subjects for experimentation in and of

colour. The kaleidoscopic result suggests a

themselves. Robert Hunter and Carol Rudyard

kind of DNA sequencing of the spectrum as

work from simple geometric motifs to consider

contained by language.

the interrelation of light and colour at the threshold of perception –amplifying the inherent luminosity of individual blocks and bands of colour to create optically active zones of light that seem to be liberated from the material substance of paint. These works draw our attention to the psychological dimension of vision, particularly as it regards the subjective experience of colour.

In all of these works, time is invoked as a crucial element to the perceptual experience, drawing us into a visual dynamic that enables the eye to travel over and into the canvas in an unhurried engagement with the very act of looking. Our sustained gaze is rewarded by the sensation

Nyapanyapa Yunupingu Pink and white circles 2010 (detail)

that we might be looking ever deeper into architectures of space and light that could be infinitesimally small or endlessly expanding. And so essential is our own contribution to the visual dynamic set in motion by the artist, that this very engagement could be said to represent the work’s true completion.

Carol Rudyard Continuum 1972 (detail) 19

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Luminous World Exhibition Catalogue Sampler  

Luminous World Contemporary Australian Art from the Wesfarmers Collection catalogue with new writing by John Kinsella, Bill Henson and Richa...

Luminous World Exhibition Catalogue Sampler  

Luminous World Contemporary Australian Art from the Wesfarmers Collection catalogue with new writing by John Kinsella, Bill Henson and Richa...

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