19
May
09

Review: ‘Exotic Queensland: Recent Painting’ by Anne Marie Graham at Gallery 101, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 6th May – 30th May 2009

 

Anne Marie Graham. 'Jungle with Cassowary' 2008

 

Anne Marie Graham
Jungle with Cassowary
2008
Oil on Linen
106 x 150cm
National Museum for Women in Arts, Washington

 

 

I was walking around Anne Marie Graham’s new exhibition of painting at Gallery 101, Melbourne having read a review of her work on the gallery wall where the reviewer compared the structure of the work to the essentialness of the paintings of Giotto. A lady approached me and said, “You don’t want to believe everything that you read.”

And I said, “I don’t. I make up my own mind.”

This was the artist Anne Marie Graham.

We had a wonderful conversation about her work talking about space, colour and form. This is what Graham’s work is about. No conceptual arguments are needed. The work addresses the landscape in a magical way, drawing the viewer into the compositions like a piece of music. The viewer finds entrances and passageways, spaces through the images which open up a dialogue with the landscape.

Using repeated patterns and layered construction, from bottom to top, from front to back, the images subtly push and pull the viewer: space quietly recedes and comes towards the viewer. Complimentary bands of colours are muted except for stunning highlight colours – the red of flowers, the blue of leaves or the unexpected pink or yellow of a background. The forms and textures delight. Dr Sheridan Palmer is correct, these paintings have an almost hypnotic effect, meditative and peaceful. They make you feel good!

Their presence is undeniable. For such complex paintings, which on the surface seem very simple (a difficult task to accomplish); for such essential representations that address the heart of the matter… their affect is powerful.

Graham’s refined aesthetic allows the viewer to engage with the poetic spaces she creates, allowing them to appreciate the colour fields, plants and landscapes she orchestrates and to be subsumed into their fold. Here we come to understand the diverse empathy of an artist who lays it all ‘on the line’ and knows how to do so in a brilliant way.

A talented artist and a nice lady as well – what more can you ask for!

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

 

Anne Marie Graham 'Exotic Queensland: Recent Painting' installation view at Gallery 101, Melbourne

Anne Marie Graham 'Exotic Queensland: Recent Painting' installation view at Gallery 101, Melbourne

 

Exotic Queensland: Recent Painting installation views at Gallery 101, Melbourne

 

 

These landscapes are inspired by the areas around Noosa, the Glasshouse Mountains and the Botanic Gardens in Cairns. Look at the bromeliads, those cousins of the pineapple that store pools of water in their depths. And the helliconias – they’re also called lobster-claw plants and you can see why! Look at the massive scarlet tassels set against tropical green – and not just the one green but the subtlest of shades and tones in combination.

‘If there’s a God, it must be there’, Says Anne of the Cairns Botanical Gardens. ‘The inventiveness and colours, the lushness and tropical exuberance and shapes. I still can’t overcome this enthusiasm’. There is an analogy with Eugene von Guérard here. Like Ann, he was born in Vienna and was also a precisely scientific observer of nature, ever mindful that the world is a thing far greater than us: that the hand of God (for want of a better word) can be found in very leaf and every grain of sand.

How much further in both place and mood could Anne possibly have travelled from the order and long humanist traditions of her childhood home in Austria? In these Queensland paintings you’ll discover cockatoos, a water dragon, a fat goanna, ibises in the lotus pond, and the shy endangered cassowary almost hidden in the jungle. And look at the sky in that painting – the rosiest pink of a twilight had tells us tomorrow will be a perfect day.

Jane Clark
Senior Research Curator, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart

Extract from speech given at the opening of the exhibition Exotic Queensland, Gallery 101 Melbourne May 2009

 

Anne Marie Graham. 'Water Dragon with Banksias' 2008

 

Anne Marie Graham
Water Dragon with Banksias
2008

 

Anne Marie Graham. 'Heliconia No. 1' 2008

 

Anne Marie Graham
Heliconia No. 1
2008
Oil on Linen
106 x 150cm

 

Anne Marie Graham. 'Variations in Green and Mauve' 2008

 

Anne Marie Graham
Variations in Green and Mauve
2008
Oil on linen
106 x 150cm

 

 

“Anne Marie Graham’s painting career now spans more than six decades. Observed with a penetrating and affectionate gaze, her images are beautiful records of Australia’s vast landscape. Each work is an engagingly optimistic view, evoking the mystery and fragility of Australia’s rich environment. This survey of recent paintings concentrates on the tropical Queensland landscapes around Noosa and the Cairns Botanic Gardens.

As she casts he vision over mountains, rain forests and panoramic vistas or as she leads us into an intimate world of gardens, winding pathways and potted plants, we find ourselves amongst large succulents, variegated foliage, ferns and brilliant flowers, visually engaging at a Lilliputian level in her richly orchestrated fields and forests. In these locations she constructs marvellous labyrinthine worlds that reveal layers of muted colours, folding forms and textures that induce a most extraordinary hypnotic spell.”

Dr Sheridan Palmer, Art Curator, from the catalogue essay

 

Anne Marie Graham. 'Heliconia No. 2' 2008

 

Anne Marie Graham
Heliconia No. 2
2008

 

 

GALLERY 101

This gallery has now closed.

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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