opera / “Don Quichotte” (Don Quixote), Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House until March 28. Reviewed by HELEN MUSA.
THERE are four distinctly different bodies of work, united by a central concern with balance and finish, in this masterful exhibition of twenty paintings from South East Queensland artist Arryn Snowball.
Four large, exquisitely painted oils on linen comprise “House of Breath”. In these works, single leaves of paper, transparently veiled to barely opaque, hover dreamlike across dark central planes. In “House of Breath No.6”, the act of prolonged looking engenders subtle effects of breath-like movement within the painting, an effect at once calming and compelling.
Two bodies of works, “Blue Poem and Boom”, comprise the series “Word Paintings”. The smaller “Blue Poem” works abstractly re-purpose the words of Queensland writer Nathan Shepherdson’s idiosyncratic poetry. In these works, such as “His job was simply to paint words onto ears – Sometimes the words were chosen for him”, the creamily transparent palette derives from the artist’s exceptional handling of his medium, a mixture of raw pigments, linseed oil, alkyds and egg. Fun to decipher and textually provocative, these are highly collectable works.
Snowball’s three large scintillating “Boom” paintings dance across the picture plane. There are immediate, albeit faint, allusions to both the textual works of New Zealand artist Colin McCahon, on whom Snowball has written, and the free ranging mark-making of Queensland artist Robert Macpherson. Repetition is the key, as seen here in “Deep Down Boom Boom”. The initial impression of complex, jumbled, repetitive mark making resolves visually into abstracted letters that form the words of the painting’s title. The overall effect is decorative and fascinating.
The final five works, “Continuum” – No’s. 19-23, underscore the generally oneiric nature of the works across the exhibition. These minimalist paintings, whose simple lines extend from a central axis, appear as personal meditations; an effortless reflection on the artist’s relationship with the transformative potential of brush, paint and line.
I very much enjoyed this rewarding exhibition. Don’t miss it.