Sunday, 22 April 2012

...searching for Fred

G’day all,

Mrs Wombat and I have been to another exhibition ……”Fred Williams: Infinite Horizons”. NGV Ian Potter Centre
Hence, in part, this posts’ title: …..Searching for Fred.

Fred Williams is best known for his iconic treatment of the Australian landscape; a vision and notation as potent as Sidney Nolan’s “mask “ metaphor in his “Kelly” series in developing an icon of landscape that is immediately recognisable and understood.
Whereas the painters of Australian landscape of the 20’s through to the 50’s tended, in the main, to see the bush in a scenic or picturesque manner Williams saw it as a topic to paint, just paint. It was a formal device that he could observe and record (he painted plein-air as well as in the studio) and develop an array of techniques to compliment and realise his conceptualizations
Williams painted in the You-Yangs National Park in the 60’s. A scrubby granite outcrop popping out of the plains south west of Melbourne it’s less than an hour from the Wombat burrow so we decided to investigate the landscape afresh before seeing the exhibition and to photograph it as an exercise in re-realising what Williams had confronted and analysed.
                                                                                                                                   Hillock, 1965-66

                                                                                       View from Big Rock, You-Yangs National Park

The Australian Impressionist painters, Streeton, Roberts and McCubbin hammered their round filberts down flat to emulate the "flats"  seen in French painting of the period and McCubbin's work became increasing planar, "The Lost Child" is worth a look, particularly in the bush foliage and he seems to be approaching what Cezanne was doing with his planes. Williams was influenced by Cezanne and structure and form was enhanced by colour.
He also replicates a feeling for limitless space by flatenning the image and staying true to the picture plane.

                                                                                                                    You-Yangs, East face
                                                                                                                                Hanging Rock, 1976

                                                                                                                               Sherbrooke, 1961
                                                                                                                                                                            You-Yangs, Eucalypt Forest

Williams was certainly influenced by some of the aesthetic of Abstract-Expressionism that was swamping Australian art at the time and you can see his understanding of it in that edges tend to be kept clear lest the composition "spill' out of the frame and judicious use (sometimes a half dozen small dabs of vermillion both to enliven the colour balance and concentrate to composition) of colour.
One of the wonderful elements of the exhibition is that you do see Williams' superb handling of colour and tone and how a mood is changed from one canvas to the next within a similar subject. 
                                                                                                                            Forest Pond, 1974

                                                                                                                                                         Serendip WildlifeSanctuary, You-Yangs

His later works become much more exuberant and colourful and although expressive of the topic are not "expressionistic" or that bane of present day contemporary art, "whimsical"... he felt that what he had to say was worth saying and not a throw-away-line. 
Great exhibition at NGV;  illustrations presented here of Williams are from "Fred Williams 1927-1982, Patrick McCaughey, Murdoch books, 2008"
Psst, Possums... it was a good exercise, too. I think I'd like an 800mm to flatten things a bit more and it was a good way to re-think colour and tone in the post process...and happily it also convinced Mrs Wombat that I couldn't replicate a Williams in paint. 
I'd also like to add that I didn't look at any of Williams' work before traipsing off to the YouYangs.. as said previously we wanted it to be freshly seen. 

Politics:  Joe Hockey (alternative treasurer, Liarbrils) thinks we have " unrealistic sense of entitlement" and should adopt a more Asian way of social welfare.... this is a man mute in the face of multi million dollar payouts of executive bonuses. Perhaps he's angling for an senior position with Toyota post-politics... they seem to share the same values! And he already comes with the slick car salesman smile. Or does he really want to hasten bloody revolution?
Speaker, Peter Slipper ( Labor... ex Liabril turncoat) is facing allegations of sexual harrassment...liarbrils shying away from saying they covered up similar, during Howard's reign. Gillard's at home probably giving her dog a good kicking over that piece of too-smart politicking.

Martin Ferguson (Labor) reckons ".....Victoria's Latrobe Valley could look like the Pilbara with open cut coal mining." Hang on, did I say Labor? No wonder the party is in a mess!
Peter Costello ( Liarbril,ex treasurer) laudes mining magnate Clive Palmer's opposition to a super mining tax only it is revealed same day, that Palmer has not personally paid tax for three years... Peter always had great timing.

Came across an interesting rant in a local "rag" t'other day and it sounded very similar to the nonsense spouted by the pro mining, anti wind /solar/alternative/common sense about environment fellow I encountered at the Ballan Festival. This time it was a fairly vicious and again factually inaccurate diatribe about Christine Milne ( new Greens Leader)  " ...she grabs the reins..." No she didn't, her party room voted her in. "...... arrested and subsequently jailed". (Fighting against a Pulp mill and the Damming of the Franklin)... so what? Nelson Mandela was in jail a lot longer and was a "terrorist" to boot!. 
"...Adam Brandt (sic) [psst.. it's, Bandt]..with Doctorate in Marxism......"  He has a PHD in Law and Politics and worked as an Industrial Relations Lawyer (trying to assist exploited out-workers I understand).. a nasty piece of work, he is. 
"They ( the Greens) use the convenience of being a minor party to avoid scrutiny"  Whatever that might mean.  ".....the exposure that will force the Greens into creating stories to match their headlines. It's at this point the internal factions of a dysfunctional Party will rise to the surface and their lack of credible depth will be exposed".      This gem was toward the end of the article and I had the sense of a mind spiralling away into its own fantasy world as the saliva dripped from the overworked tongue as the writer maniacally scribbled away....! 
I sense real fear in this writing.. a fear that the world is changing and an incapacity of doing anything except to hang on to the old certitudes. They know we are over-populating, over-exploiting our resources and that time is running out to address the issues. And they know, too well, that the old paradigms will not work this time around and it's their lack of imagination that forces them to rely politically on those who also know the problems but pretend that "she'll-be-right.." and will not spell out their real agenda. (Except for Joe...he lets the cat out of the bag all the time.)

                                                                                                  You-Yangs, Smoke Haze and Gum Trees

Cheers Possums,


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