Page 1

The past is never dead. It’s not even the past William Faulkner1 Pink Frost offers a new space for Australian imagining. One which appears at the liminal threshold between night to day. Vaporous in movement, lurid and immersive, the native bush rendered in psychedelic spectrum give us a key to Lowry’s unique perspective on the Australian space. We are caught in a perceptual shift made possible by her signature airbrush gesture. We look not only with our eyes but rather our whole body senses the painterly surface as an immersive experience. For Australians, the “idea” of landscape is as important as the landscape itself.2 It is the subject matter that keeps refiguring itself for the purpose of our identity. How then does the foggy moment of dawn, set beneath the vivid eucalyptus canopy, create meaning for our national imagination? Nothing here is defined or demarcated; even the boundaries of the body are contested. The subjects of Pink Frost seem to summon the exterior landscape from their interior world, bringing into question the roles of background and foreground. Naked figures assume positions of submission, sublime reverence, and suggestive malevolent actions. These compositions appear as snapshots to untold rituals that carry the same latent purpose as the landscape they inhabit. Both the use of colour and the shift in focus point to the contribution of photography in Lowry’s process. The mediation of this medium reveals the constructed nature of the images. Is the camera present at a real happening or are these scenes performed? Can we trust our authentic experience or are our memories assembled from images we recall from photographs? In Mike Kelley’s strategy for aesthetic production, he applies his own theory for repressed memory3, suggesting that the occurrence of amnesia is evidence to trauma. If landscape is our cultural memory, then perhaps Lowry shows us some discarded flash frames of un-recollected violence or erotic action. Lowry’s unique refiguring of the bush landscape pushes against a romantic history that seeks to naturalize the white body within the Australian space. Heidelberg School painters sought to affirm nationhood by imaging sun-drenched spaces which we could occupy, civilize and progress. Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Fredrick McCubbin drew up the borders between the body and nature with a masculine solidity that created a stage for their pioneer characters. These paintings performed a cultural loop back to Europe, seeking to justify a white presence within the landscapes they inhabit. Post-Impressionist plein air techniques proposed the capture of light through profound observation, which ascribed their legacy with clarity and profound observation. Lowry’s paintings ask potent questions; what counter-agendas travel with this idea of clarity and definition? Through the presence of photography, the temperature of colour spectrum and the performative nature of her figures, Lowry reveals that all landscape is a construction to which we ascribe meaning. We cannot naturalize ourselves towards the narrative of her paintings as they are porous, vibrational and pink. Instead we are at the upturned hour of the day in an open and intense exchange with the painterly surface. The perceptual experience of Pink Frost offers no stability. It both invites us in and resists us with its uneasy propositions. From our collective past, these paintings demand our immediate presence with full physical engagement. Here we bear witness to past ghosts that wrestle with the beauty of nature abundant. Técha Noble Faulkner, W 1950, Requiem for a Nun, Random House Burn, Ian, 1990, National life & landscapes : Australian painting, 1900-1940, Sydney Bay Books 3 Repressed Memory Theory described in relation to the Day is Done exhibition Gagosian Gallery “In the hide-and-seek game of suddenly recollected trauma the amorphous and imperfect miasma of memory is, precisely by virtue of its failure, given a meaning. More to the point, Repressed Memory Theory functions as a perverse alternative to (or cure for) nostalgia.” Stern, Steven 2006, Frieze magazine, Tomorrow Never Comes 1 2



You are invited to preview

FIONA LOWRY PINK FROST Opening: Thursday 28 May 2015, 6-8pm 28 May - 21 June 2015

MARTIN BROWNE CONTEMPORARY 15 HAMPDEN STREET PADDINGTON NSW 2021 TEL: 02 9331 7997 FAX: 02 9331 7050 info@martinbrownecontemporary.com www.martinbrownecontemporary.com GALLERY HOURS: TUESDAY - SUNDAY 10:30AM - 6PM

Cover: the waste, memory-wastes, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 198 x 168 cm Left: pink frost, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 198 x 168 cm Right: everything I feel returns to you somehow, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 198 x 168 cm







Left: a rain of falling cinders, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 198 x 504 cm (triptych) Right: should I tear my eyes out now, before I see too much, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 198 x 250 cm