Decoy Café Bar Gallery, 303 Exhibition St, Melbourne
23 August - 21 October 2011
Searching for real art and real coffee. Found; just this combination at Decoy Café – Bar – Gallery at 303 Exhibition Street, Melbourne, where, instead of the customary Sauvignon Blanc or Shiraz I sipped on freshly ground and brewed Ethiopian Yirgacheff coffee whilst perusing and reviewing this recent exhibition of Rosemary Mangiamele’s evocative and imaginative works on paper.
Rosemary Mangiamele’s recent intuitive abstract work is a reflection of her life experience and a testament to her painting skill and handling of materials. Twentieth century artist Paul Klee (1911) is much quoted as famously stating that drawing is ‘taking a line for a walk’. Klee also believed that a painter must be a poet, a nature lover and philosopher at the same time. This recent work of Rosemary Mangiamele reflects these qualities and moves ‘Beyond The Lines’ with her use of line in works which possess the unmistakable mark making quality and often lyrical line for which this contemporary artist is renowned. Each piece is uniquely different and the attraction of the work lies not only in the use of colour but also in the journey that the eye of the viewer is asked to follow.
Whilst ‘journey’ is the appropriate word to describe the peregrination of the viewer’s eye as it follows the pathways, there is evidence of another journey, the journey of the psychological inner life of the artist to be discovered in each work. Hence the working title of ‘Beyond the Lines’.
Rosemary describes her work as that of ‘intuitive abstraction’, a way of working which facilitates the process of discovery by allowing her work to develop with an evocative, imaginative and at times playful edge.
Work offered in this exhibition has been undertaken using acrylic or a mixed media approach and evidence of skill in painting as well as printmaking is evident in the works. Through the layering of colours and the brush strokes, images are created from the depth of her imagination and these images emerge and evolve from working the surface of the paper. A constant theme running throughout the exhibition is the artist’s inner journey inextricably intertwined with the interaction with and appreciation of nature resulting in work of an organic nature with certain pieces exuding a primal energy.
Rosemary states that ‘mother earth, nature and human cultures and their cross-cultural connections, are subjects that form the basis of my paintings and bring some cohesion to my thinking’. The resulting works are the sum total of my experiences.
Many of these paintings reflect a search for harmony, balance, reconciliation and peace, a search, which holds relevance for each of us in the often-chaotic times in which we live. There is a delicate merging of the external life and the internal life that allows the viewer to look through the keyhole to glimpse the secret door to the artist’s soul.
The artist’s connection to nature is evident in Rainforest Remembrance, a work that consists of many horizontal pieces of painted forest. This evokes a segmented wild forest, broken now, but with the possibility of renewal. Rich with the palette of nature this work is a comment on the artist's concern with the disappearance of wild forests throughout the world
A theme of nature is manifested again in Lantana: classified as a noxious weed in some parts of Australia, it is nevertheless an attractive and complicated tangle of a plant. The image is one of intricacies and of the intertwining branches. We follow the vines to the very heart of the plant symbolically into the heart of ourselves if we wish to pursue this path. In and out, over and under, light and dark, warm and cool, perhaps resonant of the journey of our lives.
Malevolent forces of nature are pursued in Tsunami which is not only an attractive work but also a turbulent work, one which evokes the memories of the tsunami which struck the coastal areas of Japan this year. There is darkness evident which reflects the sadness the artist experienced at this time and yet there are areas of light, which evoke the hope for renewal and reconstruction as well as safety, and regeneration of the lives of the affected Japanese population.
A pleasing sense of balance and Harmony are evident in the work Pondering. Rosemary speaks of this work as reflecting of her strong connection with a recent experience at an Aboriginal women’s ceremony in the Central Desert. There is a strength and unity of line to be felt in this work and a line that invites the viewer to keep pondering the twists and pathways to be followed. Especially engaging is the use of tone and colour palette.
Harmony is present in Mindfulness, a harmonious work created in subtle tones of yellow and one which asks the viewer to engage with the gentle lines and pathways. The artist writes of the gentleness and calmness, which evolved from meditation as being a strong influence and inspiration for this work. Rosemary can be quoted as saying Mindfulness is a result of that inner work, and is a contrast to the outside world of chaos and pressure’. Networks of pathways and connections allow a communion with nature and with fellow human beings that may be glimpsed when contemplating this work.
Perhaps one of the strongest works in this exhibition is that of Mercuric Cinnabar. Both strong in colour, working style and image. Evidence of calligraphic line making, use of complementary colours and the rich visual pathways add to the evocativeness of this work. Figures and creatures emerge and recede as they vie with one another to connect with and capture our attention to influence our viewpoint.
Interchange is about the interchange and exchange of ideas from different people and sources throughout our life. This work is evidence of the experimental styles in which Rosemary works. There is evidence of the calligraphic line and image making which is an integral part of this exhibition and which are intrinsic to Rosemary Mangiamele’s intuitive art making. This current exhibition resonates with a love of nature and a philosophical viewpoint of care and nurturing for the whole of mankind.
Reviewed by Joy Elizabeth Lea