Colour often takes centre stage in abstract art. With nothing to hide behind, it becomes precise, focused and intentional. Even more so with minimal abstraction. For Colour in Practice, four abstract artists from Western Australia are placing their work in conversation, hosted by Art Collective WA in the Albany Town Hall.
The location is key for curator and director Felicity Johnson, who describes, “ a long history of abstraction, both formal and informal in Western Australia”. She continues, “Perhaps the isolation and the unique sparse landscapes with huge swathes of sky have influenced artists, resulting in a proportionally larger number of abstract artists here.”
As Johnson describes it, “On the western edge of the continent, artists here have often looked towards Europe and America, drawing inspiration from there, and working more independently from artists in the eastern states of Australia.”
Featuring painters Cathy Blanchflower, Helen Smith and Michele Theunissen, and installation artist Jennifer Cochrane, the stylistic focus is on geometric and minimal abstraction. “The four selected artists all use colour (often vibrant and primary) and form as the foundation of their practice,” says Johnson. “Patterning, texture, reflection, and shadows are also used to create optical movements and add depth to the artworks.”
Representing women artists is intentional, with Johnson stating, “Abstraction, especially more formal geometric or hard-edged, was once regarded as a male pursuit. This exhibition certainly underlines that this is not always the case.”
This sentiment is proven through the legacies of Western Australian artists like Miriam Stannage and Carol Rudyard, who are cited as influences on Colour in Practice. Their work, and certainly that of the exhibiting artists, has a stylistic quality that feels unique to the state. As Johnson describes it, “On the western edge of the continent, artists here have often looked towards Europe and America, drawing inspiration from there, and working more independently from artists in the eastern states of Australia.”
This article was originally published in the July/August 2023 print edition of Art Guide Australia.
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