Art: Wendy Stavrianos

Wendy Stavrianos. Lives: Walmer, VIC. Age: 78. Represented by: Nicholas Thompson Gallery, Melbourne; no Sydney gallery

Her thing.
Expressive, semi-abstract landscapes of the imagination.

Our take.
Wendy Stavrianos’s new works explore that borderline between the studio and the external world, between observation and memory, landscape and invention. It’s been some 30 years since Stavrianos and her artist partner, Craig Gough, moved to a Victorian property at Walmer, between Bendigo and Castlemaine, and the harsh, dry climate has become an integral element in her work.

In her exhibition at Nicholas Thompson Gallery, Through the Window of an Inner Room, Stavrianos uses the shapes of objects and detritus gathered from journeys around Australia as the basis for a meditation on a landscape of “last remains”. Forms drawn directly onto the canvas are filled in with delicate washes of acrylic, creating abstracted vistas with a brooding, apocalyptic aspect.

A painting such as Archaic Twilight depicts a sunset, but a clutter of man-made forms scattered across the canvas suggests that the sun is setting on a world ravaged by climate change. Other pictures such as Sanctuary or Night Veil take us out of the landscape and into the artist’s mind, as she reflects on the gathering darkness she sees from the studio window.

Can I afford it?
The most expensive work in the show is the large painting Connecting Threads (Beginning) (188cm x 263cm, pictured above), at $40,000. This is very reasonable for an artist who held her first solo exhibition in 1967. The lowest price is a mere $450 for each of six small works on paper called Study (9.5cm x 14cm). As the title suggests, these small pictures are studies for the larger canvases. Neither the artist nor her gallery is certain about her record price, but there has been a number of sales in excess of $50,000. The current show is the most substantial group of new works Stavrianos has shown in years.

Where can I have a squiz?
Nicholas Thompson Gallery, 155 Langridge Street, Collingwood, until October 13;