Rosie Weiss and David Keeling visual arts reviews (Melbourne)

Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery: Rosie Weiss

Part of the sprawling Climarte Festival, ‘In the Valley’ at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery is a group show of art made around the environs of the peninsula over a long period. Most interesting among the paintings and photographs is a whole gallery given over to local artist Rosie Weiss. A distinctive view of landscape comes through in the mini-survey of Weiss’ work.

It demonstrates a remarkable consistency over 30 plus years of engagement with the natural world and the imagination. A long wall (pictured above) is given over to a grand installation of a forty-year collection of natural objects.

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One overarching theme is time passing and loss, or in environment speak, decay and erosion, evident in many of the images. Very unusually, like John Wolseley, Weiss works mainly with paper, often delicate pencil drawings against washes of ink and colour. The aura of paper is very different from canvas and oil or acrylic, embodying a sense of fragile beauty. In contrast there are works with and on wood which feel tough and territorial.

Weiss’ tone moves from the anger of the ‘80s (think Peter Booth) to the elegiac present. Looking at the earlier work makes me think that the spiky fury of the ‘80s, in this moment of ecological crisis, is relevant all over again. Impressive and beautiful, bravo!<

Until, Sunday, May 5

Niagara Galleries: David Keeling

Does the cool crowd still look at landscape painting? David Keeling’s works need no apologetics. His realist mode and fine brush place him in a long tradition, and Keeling is not afraid of “beauty’. But his aesthetic deals with the tension between the photographic and the painterly inch by inch.

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We know no photograph could look quite like these pictures — we intuit that from the exactitude of composition and evidence of the brush. On the other hand these paintings with their precisionist qualities would also not exist without the revelation of photography. They are paintings that occupy an entirely contemporary moment.

‘As the Light Falls’ — also associated with Climarte — is a show where you can be with an artist at home, looking closely and in rapture and gratitude at a coast and bush that still conjures the plenitude of old-fashioned Nature despite the depredations of climate change, development and a “darker past”. And two of the smaller landscapes feature drones menacingly hovering in the sky, hinting at a darker future too.

Until Saturday, May 4

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