Paintings of Folds

Terrie Fraser, Intimate Attachments, Upstairs Flinders

I found Terrie Fraser’s exhibition particularly interesting because of the extreme variety of my reaction to her 18 paintings. Some I loved, others I hated and others I was indifferent about. This is not because of the differing quality of painting because there are no drastic differences in technique and the quality remains consistent. Nor is it because of the different subject matter in the paintings because all of the 18 paintings depict cloth. I loved, hated and was indifferent to Fraser’s paintings because of the meaning of the paintings.

“An Unlikely Attachment” was one of the paintings that I loved. The power and formal austerity of this painting comes from the combination of illusionism and hard edge abstraction.

Other of Fraser’s paintings that I like included a series of small paintings copying tightly cropped details of fabric in paintings by Leonardo, Caravaggio, Fetti and Rembrandt (although the Rembrandt study did not seem to work, it was still worth attempting).

I hated 3 of the paintings where the Fraser had sculpted the folds of the white fabric to resemble figures. They had a twee sentimentality about them often found in the art of spiritually driven fantasy artists.

All of the paintings have a neo-baroque quality from the dramatic, quotation of fabric from old master paintings to the metamorphosis of the fabric. And they all had the power to generate a very definite emotional response from me.

Art about fabric is a minor genre of still life, but not uncommon; earlier this year I saw a group exhibition, Ephemeral Folds, at Pigment Gallery and I paint them myself (see My Art).

About Mark Holsworth

Arts administrator, artist, musician, philosopher and writer. Writes Black Mark - Melbourne Art and Culture Critic. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

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