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By Rebecca Speer
September 23, 2013

Tracey Moffatt: Spirit Landscapes

One of Australia's most talented artists explores her connection to the land.
By Rebecca Speer
September 23, 2013

Unfortunately, art world mega-fame doesn't necessarily indicate great artistic talent (Jeff Koons, I'm talking to you). People get excited about clever marketing and artful hype and it's the sort of industry that does tend to get people jumping on any cool-looking bandwagon travelling past without much thought. Tracey Moffat's name is synonymous with seriously blue-chip Australian art but with good reason: she is a profoundly gifted artist.

Spirit Landscapes, Moffatt's latest exhibit at Roslyn Oxley9 gallery, demonstrates her supreme virtuosity as an artist. The diversity of style and technique throughout the show is staggering. Try as you might, it's hard not to act like a teenage girl seeing One Direction when you look at her work.

The exhibition features five new series of photographic works: As I Lay Back on My Ancestral Land, Pioneer Dreaming, Night Spirits, Suburban Landscapes, Picturesque Cherbourg and one moving image work: In and Out.

The exhibition is very much about Moffatt's personal connection to the land. As you climb the steps to the first floor gallery, you'll be greeted by Picturesque Cherbourg, a series of six collaged photographs that look like brightly-coloured tourist brochures. Each work depicts a different view of the government mission that some of the Indigenous artist's family were relocated to in the 1920s. Many of her relatives still live there.

Night Spirits explores the land but through a supernatural lens. The series is comprised of eight works which capture 'spirit energies'. That is, they are photos taken in haunted places with no digital manipulation other than added contrast colours. The works are very reminiscent of the traditional 'haunted' pictures you’ll see on Sci-Fi channel shows: a little grainy and somewhat obscured by small, opaque orbs. At the time of photographing, it was too dark for Moffatt to see what she was capturing with her camera.

Another series is comprised of small diptychs in which dreamy 1950s American film heroines gaze adoringly at the beautiful country in which they live. Land that had been stolen from the American Indians. Moffatt has hand coloured the small prints in with ochre, eloquently drawing a parallel between the plight of the American Indians and the Aboriginal people.

The most visually spectacular images in the exhibition are the large coloured digital prints from As I Lay Back on My Ancestral Land. The title is quite literal; each frame was captured as the artist lay down upon her Aboriginal family's traditional land, looking up at the sky. Images of a naked female form have been superimposed over the tinted photographs, physically connecting the artist's body to the environment.

Spirit Landscapes at Roslyn Oxley9 demonstrates Moffatt's position as one of Australia's most talented artists. This is one exhibition you most certainly cannot miss.

Image: 5. from the series As I Lay Back on My Ancestral Land. Image courtesy of the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 gallery.

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