Having been city born and bred, and a suburbanite for most of my adult life, the very thought of travelling through the vast expanses of Western Australia's northern landscape, or trekking the bush track south through thick forest is enough to send me running to the nearest shopping mall for a cappuccino. Thankfully I can enjoy the visual beauty of both these wild regions in urban comfort by ambling through this excellent exhibition.
Brendon Darby takes us on a cruise along the Kimberley Coast as he depicts the majesty and strength of the continent's walls, then walks us through the thick undergrowth of the tall forest's floor in the South West of the State. In all the exhibits the artist employs confident brush marks that describe the strength and wild beauty of nature as well the artist's delight in it.
There is a definite sense of power and grandeur in Red Island, which is implied not only by the scale of the subject but how Darby has boldly worked the medium on the canvas. The same can be said of Arrival where a thin trickle of blue water zig-zags down the solid red rocks to greet the sea. In both these works the artist employs a subtle abstraction to better define the potency of the subject. This approach enhances the feeling of awe the landscape inspires.
Still in the north, the series Tide Line Panel views the edge of the continent from a measured distance to give it a more peaceful mood. Here the narrow horizontal bands of the rock-walled coastline raises from a placid sea. The rich colour and clarity of these smaller works invite the viewer to come close so as to marvel at the subject and the painting.
In contrast to the rich reds found in the northern climes are the cool blues of the shady forests in the south. In particular Into the Blackwood holds the eye and plays with the mind as we're not sure if we are looking through the canopy to the sky or foliage reflected in a still blue pool in the forest. Either way, what is most appreciated in this work is the play of sunlight and shadow which seems to define the tangled boughs and foliage.
Also much appreciated is how Darby plays with his medium and subject in Blue Blackwood so as to capture the essence of wildness in the wilderness more then just the look of it. But it was Franklin Winter 2 that sent a strong invitation to jump into the blue and white swirls of the painted river. Here the artist celebrates both the landscape and the act of painting.
Thanks for the holiday Brendon, and for the beautiful images of this wondrous land.
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