‘My chief interest, I think, has always been colour, but not flat crude colour, it must be colour within colour, it has to shine; light must be in it… The room is in my own home here, and the sunlight did not come in a definite way but the whole room seemed to be full of light, which is what I want to do more than the actual sunlight. I feel that even the shadows are subdued light and they must have light in them as well.’
Grace Cossington Smith (1892–1984) was one of the most innovative Australian artists of the twentieth century. An early modernist, her fascination with light and colour and her interest in what she saw around her developed throughout the many phases of her work, culminating in the luminous interiors she painted in the 1950s and 1960s. Members of her family’s comfortable suburban milieu might have perceived her as a ladylike amateur; her fellow modernist painters, especially Roland Wakelin and Roy de Maistre, who were also students of Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo in Sydney, greatly respected her art. Dattilo-Rubbo was a passionate enthusiast of modernism and post-impressionism, introducing his students to the work of Cezanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh.
I saw her Interior with Wardrobe Mirror, 1955, at the Art Gallery of NSW a couple of years ago and was struck by the vibrant colours and large rectangular flat brushstrokes that gave the work a mosaic quality. The juxaposition of pure colour is absolutely stunning in real life. I admire the way she uses colour fearlessly and the strong brushstrokes that seem to ‘dance’ on the canvas. Continue reading “Grace Cossington Smith”