Sandra Leveson: Paintings of Poise and Passion
Paintings of Poise and Passion features a series of works by Sandra Leveson produced between 1973 and 1975 when the artist combined the dazzling effects of op art with references to misty, turbulent landscapes. These nine large-scale paintings from this period, represent a highly personal and critically acclaimed contribution to Australian abstract painting.
The works were made during a period when some of the critical voices of the day had pronounced the death of painting as a viable and progressive discipline. Leveson’s distinctive ‘dot-screen’ paintings of the 1970s, which drew together the opposing fields of formal abstraction and abstract expressionism, proved the critics wrong, demonstrating that painting remained capable of grandeur and intriguing complexity.
In 1974, Leveson travelled to Europe and was charmed by the way European autumn mists seemed to enter into a seductive dance of concealment to soften the edges of the landscape. She studied the work of Claude Monet and especially J.M.W. Turner, and when visiting New York was attracted to the emotional resonance of Mark Rothko’s abstract works. Back in Australia, these diverse influences came together in a series of works in which the under layers of cloudy, gestural paint were overlaid with a veil of silk-screened multi-coloured dots across their entire surfaces, to set in play a flickering retinal pulse.
Presented together again almost 40 years later, Leveson’s ‘dot-screen’ paintings continue to occupy a unique place in the history of Australian painting of the 1970s, valued for their subtlety, complexity and lyricism.