TarraWarra Museum of Art presents three exhibitions this summer addressing the dynamic art of the drawn line. Whether it is Ian Fairweather’s imagery about the Drunken Buddha, the abstract mark making of Tony Tuckson or Gosia Wlodarczak’s celebrated drawing performances, all rely on the dexterity of the artists’ hand, creating a visual energy and vitality in their work through the use of line.
The three exhibitions also highlight the cross-cultural interests of the artists. Ian Fairweather (1891 – 1974) was born in Scotland and spent many years living in China, Tony Tuckson (1921 – 1973) was born in Egypt and travelled to Arnhem Land, Melville Island and the Sepik region, collecting art of Indigenous peoples while he was Deputy Director of the Art Gallery of NSW, and Gosia Wlodarczak (b. 1959) was born in Poland, immigrating to Australia in 1996. The ways in which culture can be translated in and through drawing is a key concern of the three exhibitions.
“These three artists, shown in tandem, present a unique opportunity to view the important stories of modernism through the filter of the present. Drawing is not so much a representation, it is a process and an embodied experience,” says Victoria Lynn, Director of TarraWarra Museum of Art.
One of Australia’s most important and influential artists, Fairweather’s style is unique. A combination of abstraction and figuration joined through a meandering use of the line, his paintings use a limited palette of blacks, greys, blues, pinks and browns. Marks are made in and through layers of paint that are as much in conversation with Chinese calligraphy as they are with Aboriginal mark making. His was a life of journeys, and these experiences pervaded his art practice.
This exhibition will bring together all the available works from Ian Fairweather’s The Drunken Buddha series for the first time in almost 50 years, including two works are from the TarraWarra Museum of Art collection, providing a rare opportunity to see these compelling paintings. Fairweather held a lifelong fascination with Chinese culture which saw him translate into English the popular Chinese novel The Drunken Buddha.
Tony Tuckson: Paintings and Drawings includes a group of works that are related to the two splendid Tony Tuckson paintings in the TarraWarra Museum of Art collection: Black and White, large upright c. 1958-61 and Untitled c. 1973. Tuckson’s highly intuitive abstract mark making and the physical gestures embodied in his paintings register a vast range of feeling and temperament.
A number of works on paper highlight his interest in the art of Ian Fairweather and his progression from figuration to abstraction. Like Fairweather, Tuckson was concerned with a truth to materials, a sense that the painting would exhibit a raw and haptic energy.
For 17 days in 2013, Gosia Wlodarczak was enclosed in a specially designed sensory limitation cube in the RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) Gallery, drawing without any exposure to the outside world – literally ‘drawing’ what she could see in the space around her. The project, A Room Without A View used the language of drawing to investigate what she describes as “an ongoing search for the reassurance, for the ‘material proof’ of my existence”.
This new exhibition, Found In Translation will feature the walls and ceiling of this room deconstructed in the North Gallery of TarraWarra Museum of Art. The artist will also create an ‘interpretation drawing’ employing an abstract alphabet derived from 29 small details taken from the A Room Without A View performance whereby each represents (respectively) the 26 letters of the alphabet and three punctuation marks.
This drawing will visually translate or encode on the gallery wall a poem from Ian Fairweather’s The Drunken Buddha (1965), which is itself a translation of a well-known Chinese tale. Not unlike a musical score, the work literally presents another way of ‘reading’ The Drunken Buddha, and sits on the cusp of language and art.
The exhibition of Fairweather, Tuckson and Wlodarczak works at Tarrawarra Museum of Art continues until 15 March 2015. For more information, visit: www.twma.com.au for details.
Image: Ian Fairweather, Chi-tien stands on head 1964, synthetic polymer paint and gouache on cardboard on composition board, 64.8 x 99.1 cm, Private collection © Ian Fairweather/DACS. Licensed by Viscopy, 2014