In western art traditions, abstraction is now more than 100 years old. Initially vilified, then dominating art expression by mid-century, eventually losing prominence to Pop Art and the resurgence of contemporary narrative and figurative painting from the 1980s. Yet abstraction as a potent visual language has persisted. Now free from association with a particular art movement, it’s possible to see the way artists have developed unique and personal approaches in their desire to step away from representing the so called real around us.
Abstraction is hard. Hard to make and sometimes hard to see. The title of this exhibition, Flow Line draws from a term used in the oil industry that describes the behaviour of liquid forces as they move together. Applying this term to look at these paintings, offers a way of discovering how artists have expressed tension, created dynamic, forced rupture or found a sublime intuitive flow. Grouping twelve artists reveals different approaches to abstraction allowing consideration of the depth of practice in abstraction that has emerged here. The exhibition reflects the practice of the Canberra region as well as those who have passed through, and draws us along to find flow lines of connections between generations of artists.
Thomas GLEGHORN, Mugga Way, 1968. Mixed media on canvas. Promised gift of Emmanuel Harry Notaras
Listen to an interview with exhibition curator Virginia Rigney at Living Arts Canberra