Yvonne AUDETTE, Cantata No.8 Enlarge 1 /1


Sydney, New South Wales, Australia born 1930

  • USA, England, Europe 1952-1965 New York (//1952) Italy (//1955) Australia from 1966.

Cantata No.8 1957-58 Place made: Milan, Lombardy, Milano province, Italy
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on plywood

Dimensions: 128.5 h x 100.0 w cm framed (overall) 130.0 h x 101.7 w x 3.5 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1993
Accession No: NGA 93.6
When I went to Europe in the mid-50s … my work responded to the layering of society itself – the remnants of murals on walls, the frescoes, the whole antiquity of the civilisation.1

The deliberate and careful layering of marks, signs and colours in Yvonne Audette’s lyrical and evocative paintings clearly reflects the influence of Europe’s multi-layered histories on the artist after living for more than a decade away from Australia. Audette was 27 years of age and living in Italy when she painted Cantata no.8, a highly sophisticated and intensely worked canvas that glows with an indecipherable and private language.

While Cantata no.8 is an early example from this artist’s oeuvre, the painting clearly demonstrates Audette’s working method – one of controlled and analytical mark-making where each line or brush stroke is considered and individual. On analysing this work, one can see how Audette has sparingly dragged transparent layers of paint over the canvas, working from a restricted palette of warm hues of yellow and gold, overlaid with contrasting shades of blue. She worked energetic square brush marks across the surface, only to scrape them back and cover them with another thin layer – appearing then disappearing – as if distant memories, reminiscent of the rich cultural histories that surrounded her, simultaneously enlivened and modernised by Audette’s unique painterly syntax.

Kelly Squires 2002.

1 Yvonne Audette, quoted in S. McCulloch-Uehlin, ‘Abstraction’s Forgotten Generation’, Australian, 23 April 1999, p.9.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002