When I paint, I find my everyday concerns fall away and I’m left with only the joy of colour and canvas*
Brett Lethbridge is a contemporary artist, who is first among equals at the Lethbridge Gallery, which he founded at Paddington in Brisbane. He, and the colleagues who exhibit with him in this handsome space, have all pursued their art passionately. It is now reaping rewards, as support for what they are endeavouring to achieve continues to build momentum, and individual works break new sale records. In July 2012 the young painter Ai Shah will celebrate her short first two years in the trade by presenting a new show.
Since winning the annual prize that the gallery awards to emerging artists in 2010, Ai Shah has gone from strength to strength. The beauty, attention to detail and subtle narrative of her works have enchanted those who have followed her development as an artist. Recently the gallery broke through the $10,000 mark selling one her superb pieces for $12,500, a remarkable rise for a remarkable young painter. During the new show she will also conduct a hands-on oil painting workshop for those seeking to discover the secrets of working with oil on canvas from an accomplished painter. With a sense of humour and a focus on professionalism, Ai Shah like her colleagues at the gallery, accepts commissions.
With beauty of movement, they are a snapshot of a moment in time, one that provides a peaceful pause before we return to the chaos of our day. They are contemplative, insightful and rich in allegory. The twisted roots of a Mangrove reach ever out across the surface of the water supporting the tree of life, that is feeding on its inner depths where true refreshment lies.
She transforms our experience so that we can reflect on our own lives, our times and all our encounters of the artistic kind. Her works include a great many paintings that, like impressionist master Claude Monet, have a focus on water and nature. Her new collection is breathtaking in its scope and subject matter, which also includes water lily pads and the flowers themselves. However the technique is not about giving first impressions, but rather offering the viewer a rare insight into the sense of space the water she is capturing enfolds. For those not afraid to enter inside, who knows what they will find? Perhaps a pathway to the soul?
Internationally surveys of contemporary art are attracting record breaking numbers.
Exhibitions that illuminate and re-interpret important collections and celebrity painters, such as those of pop art prince Andy Warhol (October at the Met in New York), offer a richer view of our modern world and humanity.
Interaction with any art work one on one is an important aspect of the current contemporary art experience. We can view pictures in books, on our computer or iphone screen but the scale and the depth of emotion it portrays can often remain elusive.
Encountering Jacques Louis David’s Napoleon Crossing the Alps currently on display at the National Gallery of Victoria, is a breathtaking experience. You may have seen it in and on the media for years, but nothing prepares you for its impact until you see it in the flesh, so to speak, the power of paint to inspire and instruct are never out of mode, fashion or style.
Shows like Ai Shah‘s, and the workshop she is holding, help us to gain an appreciation for how works are both developed and produced. This makes them easier to access, very relevant and even more dynamic, if possible.
Every era of art has its undercurrents. Ai Shah‘s work, through her use of colour, reveals that there are many more depths to explore in her upcoming works. Her delicate technique, while inspiring, is also deeply thought-provoking, taking us far beyond just our surface emotions and inviting us into a realm we often may not want to go.
If we do though, we can only be richer for the opportunity to explore what we want our own life experiences to be.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle 2012
Oil Painting Workshop
Saturday 7 – Sunday 8 July 2012
Artists who currently exhibit at the Lethbridge Gallery at Paddington are Brett Lethbridge, Joel Rea, Marcel Desbiens, Ai Shah, Lucy Bonnin, Jodie Wells, Yanni Floreos, Eli Turier, Mishka Borowski, Christopher John McVinish, Margaret Loy Pula, Emma Hack, Keith Climpson, Jonathon Crowther, John Morris, Jan Jorgensen, Salli Sixpence, Fiona White and Cynthia Breusch.
NB: Reflecting on important works of art in history can also be empowering – an amazing selection of Masterpieces from the Prado will open in July at Brisbane. Together with the Napoleon Exhibition currently conquering the citizens of Melbourne, they will both contribute handsomely to expanding this current generations layers of knowledge about art and life.