Calm and Controlled vs Wild and Emotional

2012 begins at Falkner Gallery with two exciting new exhibitions.

Downstairs are etchings and mezzotints by Melbourne artist Robyn Rayner, while upstairs are the paintings and sculptures by Debra Johnston entitled “My Fair Ladies’.

Robyn’s surroundings, both urban and rural, form the initial inspiration for her etchings. Sometimes the result is translated as a bold, clear single view using one plate, and at other times, multiple plates are arranged with precision on one sheet to create a series of recollections, a narrative of her world-view and experience. She frequently uses the ‘chine colle’ technique to enable finer detail to be lifted off the plate, as well as to add extra colour.

At times, windswept clouds, bent and twisted trees and birds in flight suggest with foreboding, an oncoming storm. At other times, the landscape is calm and quite peaceful – a dog howls in the moonlight, birds perch on power lines beside a paddock, a plane flies overhead above the fence of a suburban backyard. The viewer is able to glimpse an ordinary day through her eyes.

Her work is spontaneous and sensitive, the result of Robyn’s interest in intuitive mark-making and her restricted and controlled colour palette.

In direct contrast, Debra Johnston’s palette in ‘My Fair Ladies’ is totally un-restricted and un-restrained. Debra is an Expressionist: her moods and feelings are conveyed with a spontaneous directness and honesty. She writes: ‘Like Edvard Munch, I create to capture emotions and raw feelings.’

Her ‘Fair Ladies’ are women who have influenced and inspired her throughout her life. Some are sensual, loving, light-hearted, sensitive and charming; others are lost, aggressive, strong-willed and unforgiving. They float over the canvases as simplified child-like forms, their colours either harmonious or clashing depending on her feelings towards them.

She invites the viewer to respond to her intuitive expressionism. These women are personal to her. She states: ’And I love them all’. At the same time, they evoke a response from others because of her universal painting language. They remind us all of women we have known.

Expressionist portraits by Debra Johnston and rural and urban landscapes by Robyn Rayner are so very different in technique and style but their images remind us of our own lives and surroundings and are interesting to compare.

23 February – 15 April 2012

Hours: Thursday – Sunday 11-5

Meet the artists: Saturday 25 February 2 – 4pm