Last weekend Leg of Lamb caught the final day of ‘The Moral Meaning of Wilderness’, an exhibition of recent large-scale works by Juan Davila at the Griffith University Art Gallery in Brisbane. Shifting between figuration and abstraction, Davila revisits the techniques of plein air painting, depicting the Australian landscape in quickly executed pastel colours. Works like After Image, A Man Renounces Love (above) contain swirling, organic forms that recall the automatism of Gorky, amongst others, fused with a pop-like candy-coloured sensibility. In contrast, paintings like Arthur Street (below) are intentionally anticlimactic, despite their heroic scale. Here, Davila paints the land with soft, feathery strokes that disintegrate into absolute nothingness. By subverting the conventions of landscape painting, Davila problematises traditional notions of the sublime. Instead, his work examines our current state of ecological crisis and Australia’s complex relationship with the land.
The Moral Meaning of Wilderness will travel to MUMA in Melbourne later this year.