AAAAAH! Ross Laurie. What Can I say? Loved, Loved, Loved this work.
As Damien Minton, Gallery Director said in his heart-felt congratulations to Laurie on opening night, “Ross has struggled for these works. None of them are easy. But they are generous, luscious works , the result of a very giving nature. Ross wants to give and he has. I will enjoy coming into this gallery for every day of this month, to look at these paintings.” And he wasn’t exaggerating! You could look at these paintings every day, at length, for many months or decades to come.
Laurie works in layers – apparently scraped and added to over, in some cases, a very long time. I couldn’t see much evidence of scraping –all thick, sexy paint applied in swathes of colourful confidence reminiscent of de Kooning but in a language Laurie has developed to mark his experiences in the Walcha district of NSW. Smudges of oil stick peep from under the blanket of luscious paint; edges of raw canvas; dry brush on top of wet and slick lines over thick doonas of colour.
When I saw the invitation cover shot, I presumed that Laurie was doing more of the same from his last two shows at Minton’s gallery, and worried that he may have become formulaic (and who could blame an artist for producing successful work for an exhibition, especially since it’s very nature is risky enough to entertain and challenge you for years to come). No such thing! Laurie is the real deal – he has taken chances and broken through with an unmistakable “Laurie” style but into new territory, producing a number of wonderful, significant pieces, the best of which is either “Two stops at Ginger’s Creek” (Damien’s choice and my initial one) or “Landscape for Myf”. “Day trip to Scots Crossing” is also a beautiful, if less risky, triptych which will give many satisfying hours of contemplation.
Laurie has been painting solidly for a lot of years, but apparently has only found his ouvre (right at his back doorstep, who'd a thunk it?) in the last decade. Damien Minton has shown his work, first in his Newcastle gallery and later at the beautiful premises in Redfern (Great Buckingham St, Redfern Park end), so the two have been loyal partners for a while now. And the mutual respect is obviously paying off. The prices are still reasonable, and I would have loved to have bought another (I impulse bought one of his works on paper from the last show, and have been glad I did ever since!)
There is an enormous amount of work, each piece speaking with the others but marking a territory which is solely its own - and who could ask for more? This is the third solo show of Laurie's that I have seen, and I can't wait for more.
Image: Ross laurie, "landscape for Myf" 2009 Oil on canvas 1700mm x 2100mm