Colour and the Sydney Moderns at the AGNSW

Posted: August 17, 2013 by Mo Crow in art exhibitions, It's Crow Time
Tags: , ,

Colour-Wheel-by-Roy-de-MaistreColour Wheel by Roy de Maistre 1917-1919
Studio 13 Eccleston St (post 1937) by Roy de MaistreStudio- 13 Eccleston St (post 1937) by Roy de Maistre
Synchromy in orange 1919 by Roland WakelinSynchromy in orange 1919 by Roland Wakelin
Grace Cossington SmithStudy of a Head Self Portrait 1916 by Grace Cossington Smith
Margaret PrestonI lived at Berowra 1941 by Margaret Preston
These wonderful paintings are from the Sydney Moderns exhibition at the AGNSW which was particularly exciting considering we are just starting to redefine ideas about colour this week with Jude Hill in her online What-If Diaries.  Seeing these paintings and painters with fresh eyes, many of whom I hadn’t really looked at since the early art school days back in 1973.
It’s always good to examine what we think we know especially after my foray into colour with An Illuminated Book of Cats. Back in early 2009 I had intended to use a limited palette to make printing easier, with grand plans to make a formal colour chart and mix all my paints into sealed & labeled containers before starting the colouring in of the original B&W catly letters but got so excited about actually painting again for the first time in 30 years that I just threw myself into the process  & by the Letter C the colour of the sky and the little golden cat had changed & in every letter after that they are all slightly different. When we tried to get the book commercially printed that was when I discovered that acid yellow and deep blue are very hard to reproduce accurately so I have hand printed all our books and cards until one day in the future when the commercial printing industry will work out how to match my colours!
I am in awe of the painters of this world who reinvent the wheel over and over & it is interesting watching Jude and the circle of cloth conjurors using thread and cloth to explore colour rather than paper and paint. I am craving working in colour in this year of exploring B&W and the natural colours of the Spirit Book and the Memory Keeper with a gathering of indigo from Glennis Shibori Girl to play with very soon.

  1. dinahmow says:

    Interesting…nice to see Cossington-Smith’s head and can’t you just tell that Preston is a strong printmaker!
    Also interesting is your observation that “colours aint colours” I wish they’d put that back into primary school teaching!

  2. deanna7trees says:

    love when you venture out to a show, exhibit, museum. i get to see some of it here. thanks for always sharing. we learn new things each day and see old things in new ways.

    • Mo Crow says:

      don’t you love that orange in the colour wheel? the more I look at that wheel the more I am understanding about the current trend of “saddening” colour with tea & walnut to quote William Morris in his essay Of Dyeing as an Art

      • deanna7trees says:

        yes…it looked like a happy accident. i noticed that orange…probably because i always say it’s my least favorite color but i use it a lot without realizing it.

        • Mo Crow says:

          yes orange was not a favourite colour for years! to the point where I used to skip over the orange of my creative womb in chakra meditations but have learned to embrace it and now work from that centre two inches below the navel rather than from the sheer will power of the solar plexus where I centred my creative energy for most of my adult life til about this time 10 years ago! Life is a journey for sure!

  3. How timely, and what great examples Mo.

  4. margaret johnson says:

    Oh my, that colour wheel is sublime. oxo

  5. margaret johnson says:

    Why not, especially as colour is a theme at the moment! ox

  6. They are stunning, In the navel gazing world of Brit art history we tend to look at Europe and America and not see the work outside that. Think that is why I love what the internet enables by way of opening doors. I was particularly struck by the Margaret Preston panting.

    • Mo Crow says:

      For a long time here in Australia there was a feeling of what was termed “cultural cringe”, that we couldn’t become “real artists” without spending time in London, Paris and after WW2 New York. The great thing about Margaret Preston is she celebrated the colours & hard light that is only found here.
      The very good art critic John McDonald has written a terrific write up for the show here

  7. spiritcloth says:

    now that is my kind of rainbow….

    • Mo Crow says:

      indeed! I haven’t painted a colour wheel for so long a few mandalas over the years but not a colour wheel just for colour sake, it may well be time to do a new one !

  8. Valerianna says:

    Beautiful paintings… makes me nostalgic for days of old when these kinds of painters were in the mainstream. Nowadays, I find much of the work in galleries rather more about ideas than craft and beauty. I know, as a contemporary artist and professor I’m not suppose to like beauty, but I do… and craftmanship and pictures and objects that are crafted with love and DEEP SOUL move me. Thanks for this!

    • Mo Crow says:

      these painters were working right at the outer edge of the world here in Australia so far from the mainstream art world in London, Paris and New York! It’s worth reading John McDonald’s write up to put this work in context, here’s the link

    • Mo Crow says:

      thinking about this a bit more… when art becomes mainstream it loses it’s edge! I am happy sharing my work and inspirations out here on the edge of the world via the world wide web making whatever falls out of my hands next I love this 21st C world!

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