Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Arthur Streeton at Geelong Gallery

Recently I saw an exhibition of the paintings of Arthur Streeton at Geelong Gallery. The exhibition was titled Land of the Golden Fleece - Arthur Streeton in the Western District. The focus was on the landscape paintings Streeton completed in the Western District between 1920 - 32.

Whenever anything is written about Streeton, the assumption is always made that he never reached the heights of his youth, just before he went to England. There are many paintings Streeton did that, although very good, did't attain the magic of his youthful works, but this exhibition cast this assumption into myth. Many of the works have never been seen publicly because they are in private collections, avoiding the gaze of a critical eye.

I have always believed in this myth until I saw the exhibition at Geelong. It was a surprise to me to see such quality, some of them quite breathtaking. Streeton had a sweeping vision and his ability to take one's eye into the infinite is truly amazing. His colour has such richness and warmth and his brushwork was searching and confident instead of settling for superficial bravura. He could capture the air, the smell, the heat and the light of the open spaces of Australia, qualities that cannot be copied but only felt.

Full marks for Geelong Gallery for presenting such a great exhibition from one of the world's great landscape painters.

 The Grampians (Mount Abrupt), 1921, oil on canvas, 51.6 x 76.7cm

 Cliff and Ocean Blue, 1932, oil on canvas, 63.5 x 76cm

Mount Rosea, Grampians, 1920, oil on canvas, 63.5 x 76cm