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Sunday, 2 September 2007

Craig Waddell's Dobell drawing prize entry among the finalists at the Art Gallery of NSW impressed me more than the drawing that won: Anna Pollack's Mullett Creek, which nevertheless possesses a deft animation so you can almost see the fish beneath the still water's surface.

Waddell's Sea of love, portrait of J.C. is a nude. The woman faces you with her legs spread. Rendered with confident, rugged strokes, the figure seems to twist while retaining the solidity needed to convince the viewer that it is, in fact, a human figure.

Looking at his Web site, you see equal levels of strength and confidence in paintings mainly, in recent years, of objects and animals usually found on farms. Of interest is the fact that he spent some years learning print-making in Thailand. Now he is based "on the family farm which has been worked for generations", according to the blurb. The pic here was in a Hunter Valley newspaper because he won a local art prize.

Another stand-out for me is Del Kathryn Barton's I come into myself ... far away I am there too, which borrows heavily from Gustave Klimt and/or Egon Schiele, as do other works on various Web sites currently available. "She currently lives and works in Sydney where she is represented by Ray Hughes Gallery," says a review in Art & Australia magazine.

Barton's sense of colour is a delight and here, again, we find a confident line that possibly owes more to Modernism prior to World War II than more recent exponents. It has a rhythmic timbre that causes me to think of the Italian Modernists who assembled under various banners during the 20s and 30s.

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