Fred Williams – 1974
By the late 1960s, Fred Williams was widely acknowledged as one of Australia’s most significant artists. Over the course of a single decade, his highly innovative and uncompromising vision of the bush dismantled traditional perspectives on the landscape.
However, as an artist who periodically sought to revise and extend his practice, in the early 1970s, Williams began exploring a new way of working. Sparked by his renewed interest in colour, he broke with his traditional working method of painting gouaches en plein air, trialling a new method of painting oil sketches outdoors. Painting outside the familiar environment of the studio, Williams embraced the opportunity to explore his altered palette and his work soon became invigorated with a greater level of expressiveness in both the range of colour and the handling of the paint. Through this dynamic period of transition, the artist conducted regular field trips to a variety of locations around the outskirts of Melbourne (including sites close to the Yarra Valley where TarraWarra Museum of Art is located), where his acute observations were translated onto canvas with a great sense of spontaneity and immediacy.
Beginning with the large-scale work Lilydale Triptych I, 1974, in the TarraWarra Museum of Art collection, this exhibition includes several paintings from 1974, a year in which these new approaches coalesced and found full expression. Shown together these works provide an opportunity to reconsider this adventurous period of transition in the artist’s ongoing project to apprehend the unique, experiential qualities of the Australian landscape.