Anne Mestitz: Timbre


Hobart-based artist Anne Mestitz is obsessed with sound and colour. She is not a musician but a painter, creating vibrantly abstract works possessing a visual vibe bordering on lyrical. Timbre represents Mestitz’s first collection of two-dimensional paintings on board, a departure from the architectural blends of sculpture and painting she has been working with since the late 1990s.

While Mestitz’s expansive colour field paintings are undoubtedly abstract, they are not solely reflections of colour. The title of each piece offers a clue as to deeper meanings, and in Timbre these range from near-death experiences to navigational tools used by pilots. “The titles are always multi-layered as the work is made up of a cluster of possibilities,” the artist explains. “A pure abstractionist would say it is only ever about the colour and shapes on a canvas, but I still hold out hope that people can sense other things.”

Sound and music have played essential roles in Mestitz’s oeuvre and many of her earlier works have strived to capture the deep reverberations of bass and tone through configurations of colour and pattern.

In Timbre, Mestitz cites the music of Aretha Franklin and Brian Eno as inspirations for paintings like RIFF (save me), 2018, and Discrete Track 2, 2018. “I focus on a phrase, a feeling or strange thought and this is what the work is about for me,” she says.

Mestitz also refers to the concept of qualia, a philosophical term describing the difficulty of sharing with others what individual experiences feel like. This is particularly true of I will never be able to tell you what it felt like, 2018. For this painting, Mestitz drew on her time as an ICU nurse in charge of resuscitation. Every surviving patient described the same experience as they returned from death. “They all talked about moving through a series of spaces and feeling absolutely ecstatic,” she explains. Using this as a cue, Mestitz recreated what she envisioned the near-death experience to be like via a collection of squares painted in shimmering contrasting colours, replicating the act of moving through numerous light-filled spaces.

“In each painting, I am always just thinking of one thing. I’m not into pure abstraction; I make works driven by my own experience rather than concentrating only on colour and shape. Music, poetry, things I’ve read: they all come into it.”

To accurately capture these experiences, Mestitz spends time making her own colours from a mixture of polyurethane, acrylic, pigments and tints.

In 2013, she went full-circle and worked with TasPaints in Hobart to create her own colour chart of metallic-style acrylic paints called Meteor Mediums. Reflecting the emotive qualities of colour, Timbre is a concerto of expansive colour fields and personal experiences distilled into the “tones, shapes and dissonance of a poetic gesture.” As Mestitz concludes, “It really is me working out a colour palette, being drawn to particular colours and the ongoing process of figuring out why.”

Anne Mestitz
Colville Gallery
23 November – 11 December

Preview Words by Briony Downes