Rah FIZELLE, Pyrmont Power Station from Darling Harbour Enlarge 1 /1


Baw Baw, New South Wales, Australia 1891 – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1964

  • Europe 1916-19, 1927-30, 1960-61

Pyrmont Power Station from Darling Harbour c.1935 Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on canvas on composition board

Primary Insc: signed l.r., oil `Rah Fizelle', not dated
Dimensions: 34.7 h x 45.8 w framed (overall) 46.6 h x 57.7 w x 5.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1977
Accession No: NGA 77.24

In Pyrmont Power Station from Darling Harbour Rah Fizelle has combined his knowledge of French Cubism and dynamic symmetry with his interest in the industrial landscape around Sydney Harbour. After a period of study in Europe, and through his artistic association with Grace Crowley, Fizelle adapted a method of working that emphasised pictorial composition, the simplification of forms into basic geometry and the use of colour to integrate form.

Fizelle has carefully structured the composition in this painting, establishing an ordered relationship between every aspect. Forms have been reduced to basic geometrical elements. The building facades are flattened and the spherical shapes of chimneys and wharf pillars carefully rendered. Dabbing brushstrokes used to depict smoke and sky are repeated in the representation of the luminous body of water. The colours of concrete and faded wood are reflected in the smoggy sky. Colour subtly shifts between background and foreground, creating a sense of compositional harmony and order. Unlike his contemporaries, including Crowley, Fizelle never moved completely into abstraction. He wrote: ‘I have always painted more or less in the visual aspect of nature. Landscape and figures have been stylised, and the composition organised with a subjective attitude towards nature.’1

1 Rah Fizelle, quoted in Rah Fizelle, exhibition catalogue, Sydney: Rex Irwin Art Dealer, 1979, n.p.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra