Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Anna Sabadini at Artereal Gallery, Rozelle

Image: Anna Sabadini, Lounge Room Looking East, 2010 Oil on Canvas, 180cm x 215cm

Image: Anna Sabadini, Knitted View East with Crepuscular Light Over King George Sound, 2010 Oil on Canvas, 180cm x 220cm

Just caught this exhibition on the way home from a teaching gig. Anna Sabadini has painted very large works (180 x 215cm) which are not flattered by the smaller reproductions afforded by DL size invitations, press media or, for that matter, this blog.
I was at first pleasantly surprised by their quality as, from the publicity, I had thought the work was a little too traditional for my tastes and the subjects a tad dated and 70s feminist. In the flesh, these paintings knock your sox off!
Romantic landscapes such as "Knitted view East with Crepuscular light over King George Sound" (Phew!) present classic high elevation, "sunset" scenes, painted in skilfully quick broad brushstrokes, then overlaid with subtly tinted crosses, knitted v's from a large needle, or dots of paint reminiscent of the crafts a "well-educated" girl learnt at school during the 60s. The juxtaposition between expressive application and controlled decoration is engaging, delightful and thought provoking. The elevation to importance afforded by such enormous scale to subjects like the kitchen sink ("Kitchen Looking West") gives gravitas to women's work, whilst this disjunction between scale and subject also raises historical questions regarding the "Romantic" view of man conquering nature (why else does the artist choose panoramic scenes?), outwardly oriented and egotistically centred, compared to the reality for women of the times. Didn't one sex need the other to achieve it all? Aren't their histories "interwoven"?. And, since these are subjects presented by the artist now, it has to be asked, has anything changed much?
Regardless of this added conceptual dimension, it has to be said that the paintings are, in the end, a visual delight and well worth making it across the city or the Bridge to have a look. However, be quick as the show closes October 2nd, 747 Darling St Rozelle (left off Victoria Road as you travel away from Anzac Bridge).

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