Review / White’s ‘rich’ paintings defy urban landscapes

arts / “Causeway” by Judith White, Beaver Galleries, Deakin. April 12-29. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.

Judith White in front of her artwork titled ‘Moat’.

JUDITH White paints from many influences, but these richly textured abstract paintings inspired by the urban landscape with a cool palette do more than just attract the eye.The artistic heritage of Judith White is rich and diverse. Hailing from Sydney, and trained at the National Art School, Judith has been awarded several art prizes over her life including the Mosman Art Prize twice and commissioned to create a major public work for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

The colours, the shapes and designs in this exhibition offer a clear view of what it is like to be a part of a place that has been shaped by water and perhaps by a random urban design such as close-knit urban communities like Sydney or many cities in Europe. These works will instantly connect with many inner-city dwellers.

There are paths, waterways, houses, roads and causeways painted through almost every artwork in this exhibition. There is one that is different; it has a warm palette, which is titled “Prelude No 1”, after J.S Bach’s prelude, which White created for one of her earlier exhibitions titled, “Bach in the Dark – The Painted Bach“.

There is a sense of disunity in these works, just like there is in the tight streets of any congested city, and this comes across so well. However, the idea and image of water flow through these works and how that water erodes and changes everything. It also shows how designers build their cities around the shape of flowing water.

There is a luminous glow that inhabits White’s patterns and designs, and underneath, dark shadows that transform these landscapes into a jungle of uncontrolled design and even danger, just like in a city.

While the works could reflect so many cities of the world, White says these paintings were inspired by places in Europe and in particular the waterways around Helsinki in Finland.

There is so much content in all of these artworks, and they pull me in through their creative designs and cool colours, but there is also a freshness about them that defies most urban landscapes today.

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