University of Western Australia: New exhibitions showcase rarely seen works

Two new exhibitions featuring dynamic, rarely displayed artworks from the UWA Cultural Collections will open next month at The Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery at The University of Western Australia.

Feeling abstract?exploresabstract painting in Australia from 1950 to 1990 through artworks in the UWA Art Collection, while Matterfocuses on the significance of materials and materiality in art-making and includes paintings, ceramics, textiles and installation works from UWA’s Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art. Both exhibitions will run from Saturday 10 July to Saturday 27 November.

Curated by UWA Art Collection Curator Dr Sally Quin, Feeling abstract? showcases large-scale paintings from the Collection, several of which have been included in major national exhibitions and are significant to the history of Australian painting but have not been on public view at Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery for several decades.

The exhibition brings an expansive lens to the notion of abstract painting. It features key examples of 20th century Australian abstraction, including gestural abstraction from the 1950s, hard-edged painting from the 1960s and the revival of expressive painting in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Feeling abstract? also incorporates figurative and non-figurative paintings in which abstract elements play an essential role. As such, it features work by artists as different as Sydney Ball, George Haynes, Margot Lewers, Erica McGilchrist, Tony Tuckson and Jenny Watson.

Dr Quin said abstract painting presented new possibilities for viewing; was less prescriptive than illusionistic art, and often recalled the movements of the artist, while also encouraging a sensorial and personal response from viewers.

The exhibition also raises questions about the lineage of abstract painting and the relationship between artists across generations.

“One generation on from the revival of painting that occurred in the 1980s, what might artists practising today be able to learn from the broader history of Australian abstract art? And where can painting, particularly abstract painting, go next?” Dr Quin said.

Also opening is Matter, an exhibition featuring works of grit, weight and significance from the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art.

The exhibition explores the material choices artists make and features paintings by Lisa Wolfgramm, Carol Rudyard and Julie Dowling, ceramics by Joan Campbell, the Hermannsburg Potters Group and Toni Warburton, textiles by Eveline Kotai and Rhonda and Susannah Hamlyn, and installation works by Michele Nikou and Sarah Goffman, among many others.

Exhibition curator and Curator of the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art Lee Kinsella said the changing states of matter was an apt metaphor for the various transformations that occurred as an idea was realised in physical form.

“Transitions and transformations – whether they be of light, colour or in relation to personal stories of love and loss – all of these can be found in this exhibition,” Ms Kinsella said.

“The transformation and changing states of materials in artists’ hands is the means in which they are so eloquently able to communicate unseen or internal changes and relationships.”

Major paintings and ceramic pieces will remain on display for the duration of the exhibition while smaller works, particularly works on paper and textiles, will rotate through the show. The first period of works on paper will feature a selection that describes the austerity of work produced by women during the Second World War, featuring works by artists Nora Heysen, Elaine Haxton, Sheila Hawkins, Marjorie Gwynne and Dorrit Black.

In addition to these two new exhibitions, Creatures: Ochred, Pokered, Carved & Twined, the current exhibition from the Berndt Museum of Anthropology, will remain on show from now to November 27.

A complete program of accompanying events will be announced shortly. The Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 12pm to 5pm and admission is free. For more information, visit the LWAG website.

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