Glare by Julia Roberts (Aus)

 Visual Ode to Eucalyptus trees


The exhibition at the Substation Gallery will probably draw a respectable crowd, with its beautiful paintings of Eucalyptus trees – recognisable by it’s  slightly patchy grey but smooth bark, and bluish-grey leaves. What’s worth noting in this exhibition, is the effective use of panels to make up one painting. They serve as frames to re-consider these swirls and dabs on panels, like windows to the forest of the Australian Blue Mountains.

The paintings are beautiful in the following ways. The brushstrokes that constitute the leaves are slightly ‘watery’ much like glass paint, or oil paint that has a significant amount of oil vehicle to make them translucent and fresh. When lit correctly, perhaps these shimmer as well? One of the works, titled “Twilight” also reminded me of Andy Goldsworthy’s “Stone River“(2001), the meandering site specific installation, because it had an unusually long, curvaceous brushstroke that ran at the bottom of the painting.The panelling here is very effective, mimicking the trunks, appearing more when there is less.


The work can neither be described as ultra realistic, or pure graphic. There is an unusual flatness about the work that makes it slightly graphic. The blueness of the sky is perhaps something Singaporeans seldom enjoy, and may thus seem unnatural. The curious shaped white blobs that occupy the panels, like artificial camouflage patterns, are perhaps the ‘glare’ of the exhibition. They add to the flatness, yet layers the painting, simulating the reflections of the leathery leaves.

Flirt (detail from top right corner)


The brushstrokes also seem to animate the paintings, and I cannot help but wonder what the work would be like, in a cell animation. The use of frames has the significance of  cell animation too.Perhaps when taken in that new media, the work will truly take a life of it’s own.
The ‘glare’ that the artist has in mind, is probably the trees shimmering in the summer sun, and not any subtle reference to ills of society. The work doesn’t ‘glare’ at the art viewer. While the paintings may be a far cry from reflections of contemporary society, they are a stone throw’s away from reflecting nature. While I cannot say that one meditates in front of the paintings, like the Romantics depicting the Sublime and the awesome scale of nature, or the solemn Mark Rothko’s in isolation, there is a certain sense of serenity if one identifies with Blue Mountain, and the firm believe of nature in one’s life.

S o go out, see the exhibition, and take a long nature walk after that.

5 of 10 stars

Substation Gallery


One response to “Glare by Julia Roberts (Aus)

  1. I sensed some humour when looking at some of the paintings. In my fantasy, the trees twitched and danced when one’s not looking.

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