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Robert Pengilley employs techniques by the French Impressionists in the late-nineteenth century and by earlier English landscape painters such as John Constable.
Ted Lewis looks back to the work of Australian artists in the 1800s such as Hans Heysen.
Pengilley’s paintings portray landscapes from around Canberra and along the NSW coast near Avoca, as well as more intimate scenes of domestic gardens. One painting portrays a scene from his English homeland, of boats on the Thames in Oxfordshire, which is highly reminiscent of paintings by Claude Monet.
In Pengilley’s more successful works, the sensations of nature are tangible – the colours and brisk wind of hillsides looking down to the ocean, misty clouds in the valleys around Canberra. Others lose depth and definition when they remain within a particular colour register, yellows and oranges in one case, blues and greens in others.The strength of the works by Ted Lewis lies in their graphic qualities, but his use of colour lacks the sensitivity evident in Pengilley’s works. As a result, there is a less immediate connection with the scenes portrayed despite their recognisable locations, such as Mount Ainslie.
The enduring popularity in Australia of Impressionism and of plein air paintings is undeniable. Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra have all in recent years held highly successful exhibitions of the best known Impressionist artists of the nineteenth century. The appeal of nostalgia continues unabated.