Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fred Williams infinite horizons

Australia is a special place with distinctive landscapes. Some artists have been able to capture the essence of those landscapes especially the impressionist painters Frederick McCubbin, Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts who captured the imagination of the Australian population at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with their paintings of the Australian bush. Later in the twentieth century the artwork of Fred Williams provided Australians with an alternative view of the landscape of their country.

The National Galley of Victoria (NGV) in Federation Square currently has a retrospective exhibition of the work of Fred Williams providing examples of the range of artworks he produced along with brief commentary on influences in his artwork. Fred Williams was born in January 1927 and died in April 1982. It is particularly the works painted in the 1960s and 1970s that have captured the imagination of those viewing his works and caused many of us to rethink the way we view the Australian landscape. It is his use of colour and the often minimalistic approach to the painting with the emphasis on space and emptiness that encourages the viewer to see what he sees. Standing in front of a painting that at first glance contains a number of strokes and splodges on an overall background of colour you gradually see the perspective and depth created as the landscape emerges in the painting. Many of his artworks were part of a series - paintings of the You Yangs, the Dandenongs, Lysterfield, bushfires, waterfalls and later Weipa and the Pilbra. He also painted coastal landscapes.

The NGV has published Fred Williams Infinite Horizons written by Deborah Hart to coincide with the exhibition. It is a detailed study of the life and work of Fred Williams illustrated with copies of his paintings appearing in the exhibition.

The NGV has also republished Fred Williams The Pilbra Series about the this special collection now held by the gallery. The first edition was produced when the NGV first displayed the collection in 2002.

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