Two very exciting exhibitions are currently showing at Traffic Jam Galleries – Megan Barass’ GARDENS, WATER AND THE GREAT OUTDOORS and Andrew Grassi-Kelaher’s MIXED TRICKS.
Megan Barrass Gardens, Water and the Great Oudoors.
Barrass’ work is bright, bold and colourful with free, expressive brushstrokes, celebrating Sydney Harbour, Wendy Whiteley’s garden and Luna Park. In her works she is trying to encapsulate a reminder of enjoyable local experiences. The exhibition is divided into clear subject groupings as this is often the way Barrass initially processes her work. Barrass starts from small, scribbly observational sketches and her photography, then further expands them as large scale and intimate pieces on canvas and paper once back in her studio.
In ‘Travelling By Ferry Sydney Harbour’ we see ferries on a hot summer day and the Harbour Bridge .You can feel the movement of the ferries.
In ‘View From Wendy’s Garden’ (as in Wendy and Brett Whiteley) you can see the Harbour, boats and the Bridge but the work is dominated by a sprawling still life of flowers that almost explode off the page.
‘Jeffrey Street Wharf Sydney’ is in mostly pink and blue tones, depicting the Harbour but the work is dominated by the Bird of Paradise plants that erupt vertically in the composition.
Then we see ‘Morning Light on the Bay’ where against a red sky Barrass depicts, in a very strong, forceful composition, ferries and boats at a wharf with the eye led to the Harbour Bridge.
‘Lavender Bay Wharf’ is a busy, vibrant composition with swirling water and reflections.
Next is the large triptych of ‘Bathers’ – a large crowd of people at the beach.They are all facing away from the viewer towards the water. There are lots of blues and greens but also very colourful umbrellas.
An energetic portrait of the Victor Chang ferry follows.
‘Ferry’ comes next – a portrait of a ferry berthed and tied up , mostly in blues and greens but also some vivid reds ,with a small dinghy attached.
‘Pelican At the Bay’ is a vigorous pelican portrait where it is showing off and posing on the rocks.
Another large triptych is ‘Boathouse’, where we see boats secured at the wharf and fishing catch baskets. The eye is led to the horizon and we also see the people inside the boathouse, so there is the contrast between the land and aquatic environments. In this work the brushstrokes and ‘line’ are very controlled and defined, unlike most of Barass’ other works in this exhibition.
‘Flowers on window seat’ features a blue and purple butterfly and flower vase with a volcanic cascade of flowers in a vase.
This is followed by a triptych of bird vases full of wildflowers, the canvases are crammed full and we can see a black cockatoo, rosella parrots, a kookaburra and galahs, worked in with wattle, waratah, bottlebrush and other native flowers.
Then comes the Luna Park series with the iconic entrance face and the clown.
Andrew Grassi Kellaher’s MIXED TRICKS
For Kellaher, the title of his exhibition ‘Mixed Tricks’ is a nod to the diversity of subject and differing styles he likes to embrace and explore.
‘Brilliant Bayside’ is a fabulous aerial view of both boats and houses. Everything seems still , but our attention is caught by the repeated lines of reflections of the boats and the detailed texture of the wattle.
‘Distant Veil and First Rain’, while having a bright blue sky, shows the parched land and draught and how the water and trees have shrunk .A comment on climate change?
‘Soft Hued Hillside’ blends landscape and clouds, with a dominant curved horizontal line but there is also a meandering triangular clump of trees.
A pristine beach is depicted in ‘Beach Life’, with delightful rolling water that possibly looks like whales. There are spiky trees, pinkish clouds and butterflies.
‘A Touch Tropical’ captures an island beach at sunset, with trees on a rolling hillside, spiky cactus , birds and boats.
‘Little Boats’ is bold, delicate and joyous,jaunty and colourful with reflections from the movement of the boat.
‘Brushed Inlet’ depicted in free, expansive brushstrokes, catches the reflection in the water and depicts the rocks, trees and water.
‘The Back Track’ is quite controlled in its depiction of rolling hills and rocks. The diagonal line of the road cuts the composition and all is dominated by the cloudy pink sunset.
‘Distant Mountain Haze’ is full of the rusty pinks of the dry earth and spotted with struggling green. In Distant Mountain Haze there is a fabulous blue haze (the Blue Mountains?).
In ‘Calm Kinda Day’ Kellaher vividly and expressively depicts curved rolling hills and trees. Are we caught behind the barrier, fenced off and looking at the view? The use of perspective takes us to the vanishing point of the pink horizon.
With ‘A Breath of wind on the Horizon’ all is still and very dry. Trees dot the landscape. You can feel the heat and the environment trying to breathe.
‘Distant Perspective’ is mostly in pinks and blues, with the dull green of the trees. Again, there is not much water – the earth is becoming parched. All leads the eye to the top of the canvas along the dotted horizontal line of trees.
‘Dreamy Summer Regatta’ is a very neat, defined and crisp work. A flotilla of boats is in the dark turquoise water and we also see trees, land and houses. The eye is led to the top of the canvas with its pink/off white clouds.
In quite a different, far freer style we are presented with two bird portraits – an exuberant Rosella parrot bouncing up and down on a branch in ‘When the King Calls’, and a huffy, arrogant, charismatic blue wren in ‘Twitchy Blue’.
Finally, there is ‘Japanese Gardens’, mostly painted in earthy tones giving a calm sense of place with the clouds, bridge, rocks and lotus floating in the water.
The exhibition by Megan Barrass and Andrew Grassi Kelaher runs at Traffic Jam Galleries until 3 December 2021.