Frescoes, 2001

Christine Abrahams Gallery
27 Gipps Street RichmondVictoria, Australia 3121
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During his lifetime the English artist John Constable often went out “skying” to make miniature, rough sketches of the sky and its moods. In her new work, Sarah Tomasetti is also taking note of weather conditions, fascinated by the transitory realities of cloud formations and their elusive shifts in colour and light. Contstable’s studies were not essentially Romantic: nor are Tomasetti’s.

Her process has more to do with careful notation than with gestural narratives about the potency of nature and human yearnings to conquer, or wrest meaning from its energies. Her multiple coloured views are not flooded with sehnsucht or “abandonment”. Rather, her use of the grid system to pin down visual changes exploits post modernist strategies of fragmentation in order to codify her observations and intensify their pliable variations.

In both the open ended grids of small works and the larger frescoes, which she dislocates with consummate skill from their traditional plaster-wall base, Tomasetti examines a single image at a time. Isolated, the three basic motifs are studies in form: the sky-cloud, the island rock, the muslin cloth. Collaboratively, however, they provoke, setting up a tension of thought between ephemeral and permanent principles.

The island-landscape is perceived as a fixed symbolic structure, a refuge anchored in still waters. The sky is volatile both in itself and also as a reference point for the cloth, caught in a time-frame by the camera’s shutter as it falls, and afterwards meticulously rendered in an instant of change.

If there is Romance here, after all, it beds down with technique, with the delicate fresco, the exquisite pencil line, the layered glazing through which Tomasetti addresses problematic issues of chance and endurance with a light and a beautiful touch.

Heather Ellyard