The author of this wonderful piece is Vanessa Fedeli. If you have visited our Sydney showroom you may have met Vanessa already – a talented Interior Designer and art enthusiast. When I interviewed her three years ago, we discovered a shared love of art. What I’ve discovered since she joined Heatherly, is her incredible attention to detail. Vanessa’s review of the Sydney Contemporary is an absolute pleasure to read and I hope you enjoy it as much I did.
Sydney Contemporary is Australasia’s leading international art fair held at Carriageworks, Eveleigh. It is where local and international art galleries converge to showcase their artists’ works.
Georgie asked whether I was going to Sydney Contemporary (indeed I was) and suggested I write a piece about some of my favourite Australian artists. With ticket in hand (or on the mobile) I made my way from our Paddington showroom to spend a gorgeous Saturday afternoon doing what I love, immersing myself in art.
Love, love, love is the word I use when seeing Robert Malherbe’s work. His art is energetic and seductive and makes my pulse race. Robert’s strong and considered brushstrokes, the thick application of oils and vibrant colours make his artwork a visual feast.
His paintings of the female form are sensual and captivating and a personal favourite. The back view instinctively makes me want to reach out and caress the tempting form. With a refreshing drink in hand, I sat myself down in a very comfortable armchair at the James Makin stand admiring Robert’s beautiful backside.
I first encountered Clara Adolphs whilst staring at a portrait of Terry Serio, her entry to the Archibald Prize in 2016. The tonal blue palette and and expression of the sitter aroused feelings of melancholy. I was hooked.
Clara paints from old photographs. The era is clearly visible in her paintings with the inclusion of the architecture, fashion and style of the time. Hence, a feeling of nostalgia creeps in leaving you with a sense of loss and longing.
Her work is not laboured, working quickly with clean, linear mark making on the canvas as if she is a camera herself needing to capture the moment before it disappears. It gives her paintings a sense of immediacy and approachability. Her muted and restrained colour palette adds clarity and allows you to focus on the subject matter without distraction.
Ethereal is the word that comes to mind when I gaze upon the beautiful works of Julian Meagher. Julian’s works focussed on still life and portraiture but I’m so happy he has confidently moved to landscapes. I feel more of a connection with the subject matter and the paintings make my heart sing.
I was able to speak with Julian and get a personal insight into his work. Despite his looming size (exaggerated by my being the shortest stick in the stack), Julian gives the impression that he walks softly on this earth. I feel this is reflected in his artwork.
Julian explains his approach when painting was quite controlled having an expectation of the end result. However since becoming a father his son has taught him that some things can not be controlled. He has applied this life lesson to the way he paints, being more relaxed with experimentation and allowing the paint to move and evolve.
His works look like watercolours but they are oil paintings. By diluting the paint it appears to flow gently across and seep into the canvas giving his work an other worldly appearance.
Julian tells me how his work has become more reductive. His technique does not only involve the application but also removal of paint from the canvas. He shows me where you can see the thicker layer of oils applied and the areas where it was removed making the texture of the canvas more visible. The contrast between light and dark works to great effect on his darker paintings where certain parts of the painting seem to have an illuminative and reflective quality.
Julian has mastered the skill to produce paintings that have a sense of tranquility and effortlessness belying the energy involved to create them.
Stef Tarasov caught my eye last year at ‘The Other Art Fair’ due to the similarity of her brushstrokes to Robert Malherbe, an artist she is more than happy to be compared to. She is very new to the scene, being a recent graduate from the National Art School but already very busy participating in seven exhibitions this year alone.
Stef has an ability to give inanimate objects a personality, making the ordinary quite special. With her beautiful thick application of oil paint, manipulating it until not only does the subject appear but the paint itself seems to have a life of its own. It gives her artwork a sculptural quality. Stef produces wonderful still life but is also skilled in figurative and portrait work producing, in my opinion, paintings that imbue a sense of honesty and sensitivity. She is definitely one to watch.
You will clearly see a pattern emerging with my final artist being Aaron Kinnane. Yes, I have a soft spot for artists using impasto (Julian being the exception).
Aaron’s paintings make me feel alive and full of energy but at the same time there is a sense of calm. The contrast continues, with the bold, thick strokes creating abstract forms to gently come together to display idyllic landscapes. There is so much happening within the space but there is also a gentle rhythm which draws me in. I imagine myself meandering through magical countryside.
Aaron’s abstract paintings give me the freedom to create my landscape within his own, visualising rivers, trees, fields and paths where perhaps there aren’t any. I think it is this freedom, combined with the calming colour palette of greens, blues and earthy tones, that creates a peace within.