True North Far South
Danielle Creenaune’s work occupies a liminal zone between abstraction and representation, where the experience of a place, rather than a literal rendition of landscape feeds her creative practice. Wind-swept and gestural, the artist distills the essence of her subject through reductive marks made confidently on lithographic plates, which through the alchemy of printmaking are released onto paper.
Born in Australia and raised in the Illawarra region of the NSW coast, Creenaune has spent the better part of two decades living abroad, and is now based in Barcelona – heart of the Catalunya region. She first visited this part of the world 17 years ago, having heard about the Centre D’Art I Natura deep in the Catalan Pyrenees. Embarking on the then difficult journey to this remote art studio and residence in the small town of Farrera, she experienced an immediate and all encompassing connection to the place when she arrived. She decided to undertake an artist residency at the Centre, and has returned regularly ever since.
When the European summer heats up the continent, Creenaune travels to this lofty spot to teach a course in printmaking on an almost annual basis. She walks the highland tracks, the same paths that she discovered so many years ago, and much of the current exhibition interprets this location and the sensory impressions and emotive connotations it holds for the artist. Making fast drawings of her surrounding environment, Creenaune observes the changes that have occurred to the landscape and its people over the passage of time – just as the countryside has borne silent witness to the changes that have occurred in the artist and her personal world over the stretch of years. For Creenaune, life’s vicissitudes, relationships and experiences have been mentally charted along those meandering tracks. Woven into a rich internal tapestry of thought and memory that is revisited and expanded upon each time she goes back, and is physically immersed in the landscape. It has become a place that exists as much in the artist’s psyche as it does in physical reality.
Creenaune works quickly in the landscape, often sitting low in the vegetation. Returning to her studio certain sketches become the basis of ink drawings, which are then translated into works in print media. The freedom of expression that lithography engenders makes it the perfect medium for Creenaune’s bold, spontaneous style. Unlike intaglio or relief printing it is not necessary to cut or scratch the surface of the plate, thus her supremely confident line-work finds fluid expression.
This exhibition includes prints where Creenaune has combined traditional lithography with a wood-based version of the process known as Mokulito. The wooden printing surface used in Mokulito is responsible for the wood-grain seen in broad areas of colour or tone that appear in some works, creating evocative atmospheric effects that marry well with her heavier marks. The wooden plate slowly breaks down through the printing process – its changeable, unstable matrix mirroring the physical mutability of her landscape subject.
As the title of this exhibition suggests, Creenaune has not forgotten her Australian roots. Like many of Australia’s iconic contemporary and twentieth century artists, she chooses to upend conventional picturesque traditions of depicting the landscape, inventing her own visual language to convey its immensity, space and primordial essence. Some of the works in this exhibition are derived from walking trips the artist has made with family in Australia – and again the landscape becomes a vehicle to express a personal dimension. While she may have built a life in Spain, always the South sings its homeward lament.
On an aesthetic level this exhibition reveals Creenaune’s skill in tempering fearless gesture with restraint, and immediacy with control. In doing so she visions the landscape in flux, and evokes a dynamic space for both personal and universal considerations to unfold.