Current Issue #488

Marnie Wark on It Looks Like Rain: "The darkness makes the light brighter"

It’s been eight years since Marnie Wark held a solo exhibition of her abstract paintings. Wark had carved out a successful career with representation by a number of galleries nationally including Tim Olsen in Sydney and Scott Livesy in Melbourne when she decided to take a step back to raise a family and rebuild the farm her husband lost in the 2006 Victorian bushfires.

Eight years on and Wark is approaching her art practice with more maturity and broader life experience. “In the last 10 years I have been able to refine my skills with paint to be able to experiment with water,” Wark says. “Through all the accidents I have made, I have found some techniques which have become integral parts of the new work. I have also loosened up and let go.”

marnie-wark-blossom-adelaide-reviewMarnie Wark, Blossom (2016)

One of these techniques is using a water gun to spray water onto the paint once it has dried. Wark then uses a rag to take off some of the paint. By letting the water run down she creates an effect of the paint dripping down.

While these new works may be looser, audiences will still recognise her signature style focusing on the curve. Wark has always liked curves, an influence from her background in graphic design. “I find them very pleasing to the eye,” she says.

Another element, which is also a design influence, is that all of the works feature black. “It weights a painting and I think it’s almost a metaphor for life, the darkness makes the light brighter,” she says. “You have to have it, without the black it wouldn’t have the depth.”

marnie-wark-petrichor-smell-of-rain-adelaide-reviewMarnie Wark, Petrichor – Smell of Rain (2016)

In these new works and her past offerings, the underlining idea is what Wark calls, “the spirit of the space”. She explores the notion that form and colour can affect the meaning
and mood of the work. With It Looks Like Rain, Wark explores how our moods and overall wellbeing are influenced by the weather.

As the title suggests, the exhibition is inspired by the weather, an important element of living regionally, previously in Gippsland and now in the Barossa Valley. “Everyone takes great comfort in talking about the weather. Whether you are a farmer’s wife or not it’s a lovely way to instantly feel a connection,” Wark says.

Tangled Seasons was the first work she painted for the series and it was the trigger piece for the rest of the show. Works like Blossom feel light and airy and evoke feelings of spring and the hope that season brings.

marnie-wark-tangled-season-adelaide-reviewMarnie Wark, Tangled Seasons (2016)

While it’s been a long time between exhibitions, and much has changed in the world of contemporary art, one thing that hasn’t changed is Wark’s signature style.

Audiences who are familiar with her previous works will not be disappointed. Let’s hope it’s not another eight years before she exhibits again.

Marnie Wark: It Looks Like Rain
Peter Walker Fine Art
Until Saturday, November 12

Header image: Marnie Wark, Gush (detail.) (2016)

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