abstraction, black + white, coastal, exhibitions, nature, rocks

Fleurieuscapes: Outtake 3

January 12, 2016

This abstraction of the granite rocks at Kings Head, which is near Victor Harbor on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia,    is another out take from the Fleurieuscapes exhibition at Magpie Springs. One  reason for  this image not making the cut is that I decided that there would be no abstractions  in the exhibition, given my 2015  Australian Abstraction exhibition at the Light Gallery in Adelaide during the SALA Festival.   Another reason  for  its  exclusion is that the  people  helping me  to curate the  pictures   for the exhibition judged  that  the image  was too forbidding and  austere. It was a part of the  grotesque mode of expression in the visual art and it didn’t really fit in  the exhibition.

This exhibition  is part of the emerging trend in contemporary art photography  in Australia and New Zealand  that shows a marked and widespread interest in landscape. There has been a tendency to trivialise and overlook landscape photography, including the photography of wilderness.

rock abstract, Kings Head

rock abstract, Kings Head

The  textual background to the exhibition is that the genre of landscape has been desperately unfashionable across the arts for so long, the preserve of the Sunday painter and the happy tourist snapper. While the photographic canon includes the greats of landscape photography,  more recently photographers have tended to avoid a genre that is so easily linked to the vernacular (ie., happy snappers and tourism) and so difficult to connect to serious intent.

My guess that  a key reason  for contemporary photography’s renewed interest in landscape  is that it is a part of an engagement with the edgy relationship between specifics of place and their histories. This contemporary work makes it different from the standard landscape photography, which  has its roots in the work of Ansel Adams and Edward Weston in the US,  the Tasmanian wilderness photography with  its roots in the work of  Peter Dombrovskis  in Australia, or the British landscape photography influenced by the work of Joe Cornish.

Ironically, the Fleurieuscapes exhibition has overflowed into  a second room,  and it  now includes some of the framed prints of  the bark abstracts made across the road from Encounter Studio that were in  the Australian Abstractions exhibition. The exhibition now includes 22  prints,  and this rock abstract would have been suitable  in the second room. The work is about people, space and  place and it endeavours to explore a seaside town without embracing either the  mood of languid, forever-long summer days of   Joel Meyerowitz’s  1979 book Cape Light or  the gloomy or  dark landscapes of the Gothic tradition.

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