Review :: Rachel Fairfax, Landscapes of the Larapinta Trail

July 18th 2011

There is something to be said about a 122-work strong show that is able to maintain intrigue throughout. Contemporary artist Rachel Fairfax’s latest exhibition at NG Art Gallery, Landscapes of the Larapinta Trail recalls iconic Australian landscapes where a true sense of the familiar evokes a sense of nostalgia in us all. Inspired by the vast and magical quality of the Larapinta Trail in the Northern Territory, Fairfax manages to denote the lyrical qualities of nature in the form of sketch-like oil paintings, ceramic blocks, potted vessels and wall plates, all of which have a Cezanne-esque ring about them.

Fairfax is a figurative painter, creating scenes of soaring mountains, towering trees and images of our deep red centre. There is a certain spirituality to all her works, which begs the question of whether or not there is a personal attachment to the artist’s subject matter. Indeed there is. Almost intoxicated by Mother Nature’s sheer power, Fairfax works in a fashion where layers of paint are built up to create texture and momentum. Each work seems to be living. Stark colour contrasts are balanced with compositional simplicity with every landscape speaking of the artists favour towards spontaneity and intuition.

Perhaps at its core, Fairfax’s show is a confession – a confession of the awe inspiring native Australian environment and a personal confession of a longing to be at one with the wilderness. Her paintings boast sweeping brush strokes, whilst the ceramic plates, bowls and vases on offer demonstrate such artistic diversity. Just as skilled with the brush as she is in throwing down clay, Fairfax is an artist who navigates the audience through the natural beauty of the Larapinta region without hesitating to employ striking warm colours – reds, rich yellows, deep bronzes and burning oranges – to exemplify the intensity of her subject.

At first, the show can be quite daunting with so much to take in. Don’t let this deter you however, because once you’ve explored the exhibit it’s most likely you’ll be left wanting more. With an undeniable sensitivity towards the region of which she depicts, Fairfax seems to be painting from the heart. Here’s what we call art with soul.

Landscapes of the Larapinta Trail is currently showing at NG Art Gallery in Chippendale and runs until the 23rd of July.



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