Paintings and photographs by Anne Hastie
I have been travelling to China since 1999 and participating in the Red Gate Artist-in-Residence Program since 2005. I have, over the years, developed many strong impressions of China, one of the strongest being of massive, almost convulsive change – of constant and large-scale loss. During my three-month residency in 2014, China experienced at least two catastrophic losses, and made a commitment to one of the greatest changes through internal migration the world has ever seen.
In January fire raged through Shangri-La, the 1000-year-old Tibetan town in Yunnan made famous by James Hilton's 1933 novel, destroying 242 structures, many of them irreplaceable.
In March, the government made a commitment to continue to urbanize the country by bringing 100 million rural migrants in to live in cities by 2020. Urban life, as opposed to farming, offers modern housing, health and social welfare services, better schools, and larger pensions.
Also on March unbelievable tragedy struck with the disappearance of flight MH 370, with 153 Chinese citizens on board. The loss of life was particularly acute as it included a group of Chinese artists and calligraphers returning from Kuala Lumpur. Nineteen artists, six family members and four artists’ staff members were on board the plane.
The photographic segment of this exhibition, Going, going, gone… presents images of deserted shop fonts in the world heritage city of Pingyao, in Shanxi province, central China. While this street is full of ghosts, the rest of the city is booming with tourism. One of the prices we often pay for progress is loss.
The paintings in this exhibition are on canvas and on paper. In these images I explore and exploit reactions between paint, ink, varnish, water, and air. In varying combinations, and using natural phenomena of humidity and gravity, I intervene while these media are in their liquid state to create delicate, textural, multi-layered images. What initially appears to be flat, on closer inspection reveals a history of pooling, dripping, wiping and over-painting. Lakes of color and marbled textures are reminiscent of patterns seen in nature, yet the images remain abstracted, suggesting far off and fantastical worlds. They represent a continuing journey into the boundless possibilities of painting.
Kreisler Gallery, 242 Victoria St, Brunswick, Vic 3056. M: 0413 1812904.