index :
VALERIE TRING : Anxious Watercolours ::: GALERIE DÜSSELDORF ::: 1 - 29 April 2007

1 - 29 April
Valerie Tring : Anxious Watercolours

I am in possession of a large ( 22 colour pan) black metal ‘Made in England’ Winsor & Newton watercolour paintbox.
For several years now I have been obsessed with the medium of watercolour. The place of watercolours as paintings rather than drawings on paper – as finished and autonomous (‘Projective’ as described by Bois). This is not unrelated to the story of exhibition watercolours and the societies that promoted them alongside oil paintings. Watercolour’s peculiar qualities of transparency and portability made it the medium for recording the origins of flora and fauns; architecture and its ruins; landscapes and the weather. The shape of colour in water…sometimes fugitive pigments “ colours…held on the paper by a feeble binding of gum” (Thackeray). What began with ‘stained drawing methods’ (tinting- imitating tone in oils), opened out into pure washes of colour (British artists working in Italy @1780)
My own watercolour fetish began with the mysterious and delicate watercolours of jellyfish on vellum, and others kangaroos and possums by Charles Alexandre Lesueur in the 1999 Museum of Sydney exhibition ‘Terre Napoleon: Australia through French Eyes 1800-1804’ curated by Susan Hunt and Paul Carter. On display were wonderful watercolours by Lesueur & Petit unofficial artists for Nicholas Baudin’s exploration of Australia on the floating laboratories, the Geographie & the Naturaliste. Thereafter I began experimenting with watercolours on leather especially soft kangaroo skin- my local suppliers are two elderly Polish leather merchants and boot makers who are known for designing the best riding boots in Sydney including polo boots for the late Kerry Packer.
Anxiety is the subject and rhetoric of my watercolours – whether baby animals- brightly coloured - fragile and pensive -‘Others’ (2002-2004); or kangaroos and boys- play-fighting, ‘Anxious emblems’ (2005-2007) ; and Antipodean landscape ruins –of houses after bushfires, cyclones or floods- ‘Ruinscapes’ (2002+) . I first exhibited the ‘Ruinscapes’ in a touring exhibition ‘Academici: Australia Council VACB Rome Studio residency 1999-2004’ in May 2005 just months after the nightmare of the Tsunami in the Pacific Ocean. In recent years research on the physical science of climate change has been prepared and reported on with growing urgency, projecting extremes and intensities of heatwaves and cyclones.
One of Durer’s most unusual watercolours is ‘Vision of a Cloudburst’, 1525 painted by the artist after a disturbing dream of a deluge…when he tried to describe how the water struck the ground at a distance with such force it could be heard as a frightening roar. A wonderous watercolour, but anxious.

* All Paintings : Watercolour on Leather 20 x 20 cm Each $ 750

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 Acquired PHC Canberra
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  Acquired PHC Canberra
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  Acquired PHC Canberra
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 Acquired PHC Canberra 
 Acquired PHC Canberra 
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Ric Spencer
SATURDAY APRIL 21 2007 page 13

History and the age of anxiety
Terrorism and the environment are on display in two of Perth's latest exhibitions

Climate change, oil prices, terrorism, etc, etc, etc. sometimes it can seem too much. Currently in Perth are three shows that give
us some insight into the overwhelming nature of our times.

At Galerie Dusseldorf John Teschendorff's History ofIdeas IV immediately reminds us that these times, although predominated in a peculiarly idiosyncratic way, are nonetheless history repeating itself.
Looking like rustic tablets and superbly referencing texture and patterned motif, each work seems an appraisal of contemporary angst while simultaneously goading us to seek history's lessons. Teschendorff, through a combined use of abstraction and text, has produced a series of rich and very political works. In an art climate where many works are whimsical'at best, Teschendorff has given us a blast of the monumentalinart and judging by this excellent series, he feels now is not the time to be faint-hearted.
Much of the work gets into the political space of an East/West dichotomy. Paintings like XXXVII Guantanamo Fence, XXIX Temple Guantanamo Bay and XXXIV Plague (Traitors Gate) all utilise a strong sense of iconic abstraction to . make the viewer engage in a sense of destiny. This is destiny being played out not only in the world of global politics but in the whole idea of representation itself We are repeatedly told we are watching history unfold, seemingly on a day-to-day basis, and much of Teschendorff's imagery understands the guiding way weare fed this information from above, distanced and protected.
In a work like Stealth (Silk Road to Freedom) we look down on a plane dropping bombs. It's a jolt because the abstraction of the image reminds us we have never been there, above a Stealth bomber, yet the imagery is so familiar. Familiar too are the ideologies that govern our planet today. Teschendorff's work engages them briefly as they continue to go around in history, battling each other in a never-ending Orwellian dance.

Also at Galerie Dusseldorf are Valerie Tring's peculiar watercolours small studies on soft kangaroo skin. The way the watercolour sits on top of the hide completely grabbed me. It holds but it feels it could wash off at any moment. Her series based on cyclone Tracy's destruction of Darwin complements this technique beautifully.
Again, like Teschendorff's work, many of the images in her Anxiius Watercolours collection are taken from aerial views. Buildings are crumbled, ripped apart like so many skeletons by the force of nature. Tring's use of watercolour is really contemporary and affects an urgent reading from a usually relaxed medium. This paradox will bring about a shift in viewer response, creating an uneasy space that Tring fills with anxiety.
Her other smaller series is a beauty. Anxious Emblems shows small boys play-fighting with kangaroos well, sometimes with kangaroos, sometimes with each other. The 12 works in the series add up to a brilliant little ditty on expectations of violence, nationalism and masculine behaviour.

John Teschendorff's XXXIII Plague (House of the People).
Valerie Tring XXIV Ruinscape (after a cyclone)History of Ideas IV and Anxious Watercolours are at Galerie Dusseldorf
Glyde Street. Mosman Park, until April 29.