When it comes to fine art, no matter what preference you have for style, era, or subject, you will be well satisfied with this excellent exhibition of works by Frederick McCubbin, one of Australia's premier painters. Here you can peruse over seventy works gleaned from major galleries and private collections around the country, and marvel at how these simple scenes are depicted with a mixture of quick and colourful marks. Here are iconic images that reveal a unique art style, reflect a particular time, suggest a certain place, and evoke a sense of reverie we can all relate to.
We find all things traditional and contemporary in this selection of works by the master. McCubbin's choice of subject, formal portraits and figures in landscape, reflects the long tradition of painting. Having not met the people or places depicted in the works, I assume they do justice to their subject according to the custom of the time. However, it is in the landscapes that we see the artist's contemporary approach to painting. These are not well ordered images of arcadian vistas in gentle tones of green; they are a commotion of marks in variety of hues including yellow, pink, orange, red, blue, and yes some green, that adeptly suggest a tangled 'bush' full of life. What amazed me most was the amount of pink used, not just in the open sky to suggest a time of day, but in the deepest recesses of thick forest.
And this is the joy of viewing McCubbin's works, both small and large, as each painting offers a wealth of wonder. From a distance we see the 'picture' and can identify the subject as a rural scene, a landscape, a harbour, etc. We note how well the mood or atmosphere is manifested in paint. Then, when we come up close, the image seems secondary in importance to the 'painting' as we note the layering of colours and the myriad of fine brush marks that constructd the painting. We get the notion that the artist loved his subject as much as the act of painting.
Do yourself a favour, go to the gallery and take a walk through the
bush with Frederick McCubbin, you'll enjoy the experience.
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