Drawn to the Land : Chris Stevenson

13 - 27 October 2022

Artist Statement: October, 2022

In Drawn to the Land viewers reconnect with a landscape that recalls others they may have experienced before. For me, connections to the Australian countryside began at an early age. The sounds, smells and sense of space were so different to city life. My present studio, on a small cattle farm in a Blue Mountains valley, is surrounded by hills, a river and a distant escarpment.

The apparent contradictions in the Australian landscape: its toughness and fragility, its magnitude and exquisite detail, are intriguing. The connective energy linking motifs such as trees, rocks, shrubs and fences is something I intuitively feel. Another recurring theme is the cycle of life and death: dying trees contrast with the verdancy of yellows and greens that tend to dominate the land.

My style varies between representation and abstraction: the blurring of edges and colours echoing the way memory works. To capture this essence, rather than mixing colours on the palette I prefer to create colours on the canvas using a wet-in-wet technique or building transparent layers of colour or scraping back into wet paint.

We seem to be hard-wired to empathize with topographical features of the land. The verticality of trees mimics the human form and recalls the presence of past generations: Indigenous and non-Indigenous. There is a sense of urgency about representing the land in its present form, before it disappears into smaller subdivisions, already happening not too far from our farm. Climate change has also galvanized many Australian artists who constantly witness the destructive changes to the land by frequent bushfires and floods. Drawn to the Land continues a longstanding artistic tradition of imaging the diverse nature of the Australian landscape.