Sunday, September 12, 2010

Penny Coss - Light Works

Penny Coss uses light to infuse her paintings of the Australian landscape with a unique freshness and vibrancy. Her recent show at Harrison Galleries was a kaleidescope of the most beautifully married colours, citing the Australian flora with a verve and tremendous jeui de vivre. Replacing a tried and true bush palatte of ochres and olive hues with bright pastels and flourescent greens she has created a cohesive and innovative exhibition with confidence.

Coss's walks through the bush are the inspiration for most of her abstract
work. She paints to capture the essence of the space she feels. By pushing the canvas around, rotating it horizontally and vertically she manipulates colour and shape to create movement and stillness, alternatively. There is nothing unintentional about the way Coss paints; it is considered and focused. The colours she employs could easily look garish if they were to be splashed about with abandon. Instead she carefully matches an arc of cobalt blue with a bedrock of coal grey, illuminated with a ferocious flouro green and somehow it just works beautifully.

Her canvases have a sheen created by sanding back colour that has been thinly applied. Applying layers of colour gradually gives each piece a cultivated depth. One senses her patience and unswerving confidence in what she creates. Each piece expresses cohesion and balance with just a frisson of playfulness. Some of the smaller pieces such as Strip Neon had a slightly more cautious palatte of colour and composition. The larger canvas, White Hot Slap convey more movement and enable more contrast of the tutti-frutti pastels with sombre shades. The overall effect of the fifteeen paintings on display was refreshing and sharp. Penny Coss's Light Works was a brilliant exhibition, an innovative and vital representation of our landscape, unencumbered by iconic references and heavy handed use of predictable 'bush and outback'colour.

Image one:
Retinal Assault of the Western Sun, 2009
oil and enamel on canvas, 152 x 152 cm
image courtesy of Harrison Galleries

Image two:
White Hot Slap, 2010
oil on canvas, 127 x 101 cm

image courtesy of Harrison Galleries

Image three:

Strip Neon, 2010
oil on canvas, 38.1 x 38.1
image courtesy of Harrison Galleries

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