|Exhibition Review. Iain Reid. 5opt
Gallery Hong Kong.
John Olsen is widely considered to be Australia's greatest
living landscape painter. In the 1980s, Olsen took a light
plane flight over the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia.
The Fleurieu is bordered on one side by St Vincent's Gulf
and by the Murray River on the other. To the north is
Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, and in the
south is the Coorong, an extraordinary wetland isthmus
formed where the Murray meets the sea. His flight and this
landscape formed the basis of a series of works that are
arguably the artist's greatest and most inspired landscape
Olsen's fellow Australian, the Victorian artist Iain Reid,
is also inspired by flight. However, Reid's exhibition in
Hong Kong, entitled Walking in the Air, does not attempt
to document any particular landscape or point of view.
Rather, his work takes the experience of flight, of
passing though the atmosphere of the landscape itself as
its starting point, and layering it with other experience.
The result is work that implies an aerial view but which
is capable of supporting many other allusions. Two fine
examples of this are Centered
(2005) and Late
The experiential nature of his work is evident in his
paint surfaces. Each work is patiently built up over a
period of time. Each begins with a dark staining of the
canvas and layers of dark pigment over which are layered
skeins of paint, each progressively lighter in tone than
its predecessor. Sometimes the pigment is applied then
wiped away leaving nothing but traces caught in earlier
brush marks and at others it is sponged on even and
smooth. The result is a surface of great subtlety and
complexity. The handle of the brush and other tools are
used to scratch at these top layers excavating and
exposing the darker tones beneath. These marks reveal not
only that which is buried within the canvas but also
suggest a range of natural forms. Other forms are
suggested by whorls of pigment that appear to be erupting
from deep within the paint's surface.
The vastness of the Australian landscape may appear, at
first sight, to be monotonous and dull as its sheer scale
swamps the senses. But if you take the time to avert your
eyes from the sweeping plains and the far horizon you will
find extraordinary variety in the details. In some of
Reid's works the incised marks and tight curls suggest
complex patterns of sparse vegetation, in others the
extraordinary beauty of coral reefs as seen from above. In
still other works the marks and patterns suggest vision
itself- the motes and curlicues that are sometimes sensed
rather than seen when set against the sweep of the sky.
Many of Reid's works are veiled in limpid blue. This is
the trembling blue of distance seen through the heat haze
of a summer's day. As a colorist Reid has captured this
particular quality of the Australian landscape and
transformed it into abstract works of lyrical beauty that
go far beyond national sentiment.
Courtesy of Asian Art News Volume 16 Number 2 March/April 2006
Gallery Home Page
Copyright © 2006- Revised: July 26, 2016. All rights reserved.
Australian Virtual Galleries accepts no responsibility for changes or errors
that may occur in published information on the websites.