Australian abstraction

“There is no abstract art. You must always start with something…”

Pablo Picasso

Currently at the Art Gallery of South Australia there is a fabulous exhibition celebrating the work of Clarice Beckett. This Victorian artist was formally trained, but painted largely for herself, often around the beachside suburb of Beaumaris. Her style is muted and ephemeral. Nearly always painting en plein air, her ouput was prodigious. It was put to me that the trajectory of her work was heading towards absract expressionism, very rare in Australian art of the 1920s. All artists oscillate through phases of style over a career and most simplify their techniques and subjects. Beckett died early without real fame in her lifetime. We don’t know the philosophy behind her work, indeed we do not even know the titles of many pieces. Her work is beautiful, simple and complex, but it is not Barnett Newman or Mark Rothko, nor is it correctly descirbed as abstract. It is more interesting than that. #lovetheAGSA #letsmakelemonade

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