Landscape show reveals travesty
A curated show can enhance the message of an exhibition by including an analysis or statement about the artists’ intentions.
The curators at One Star Gallery combined scenes of the central Victorian plateau with painterly texts in their latest show.
This is an unusual combination in that the texts appear to be expressive and the landscapes traditional.
The texts are in the Colin McCahon tradition with a touch of Marie Laurencin from Paris, and they fit well into a modernist approach that favours the surface of a canvas.
In the invitation to the show, the curators mentioned that the landscape paintings were done by Jason Jones in response to a threat.
The artist confirmed that a plan to build transmission towers across the volcanic plain near his home in Smeaton galvanised him to action.
He has done 20 paintings of the scene through his studio window in one direction and a key work documents the yellowing hills and creek beds that cross the plateau.
The activation of Jones’ feel for the craft of landscape painting by this real threat to its integrity is moving and pertinent.
“It shows the reality of the alternative energy push on the environment,” he said.
He and other locals appear to be fighting a losing battle for the power lines will be used to carry electricity from a nearby wind farm, highly visible upon the top of a hill.
Landscape painting, a tradition some believe to have reached its limits, has in the hands of this curator become a political issue as artists move out to document places they love before the techs move in.
Jones says he has been living in Smeaton for 20 years and that even the viability of this small town has been threatened by the recent closure of their pub.
The plight of these landscapes, often the only real solace for those stuck in the big city, is real and pressing.
The art serves to document what will go – the pleasure of viewing the earth with little sign of humans except for a quiet country road.
Tragedy is in the offing and Jones was in Melbourne to raise awareness of what could be lost with an artist’s talk on June 10.
Bullarook Landscape is a view of the creek near his house that flows into Newland Reservoir. “After 20 years I feel like I’m a part of the place,” he said.
The colours are solid and there is no romance in the rendition which speaks powerfully, particularly when hanging next to its chronicler.
Jones has an abstract eye, and he prefers the formal composition of the horizontal to the possibilities of indulging in sky.
There’s a heaviness to his work that is appealing, giving it a sense of gravitas in the constant dullness of the winter days.
The beauty of this place is not in its line but in the mass of the earth and the way it has developed contours over the millenia. •
Caption: Jason Jones with Bullarook Landscape at One Star Gallery.