Yeronga, Queensland, Australia 1895 – Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 1988
Rock formation, Waverton
Waverton, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: drawings, graphite; paper drawing in black pencil Support: wove paper (sketchbook page)
In the early 1930s, Lloyd Rees all but abandoned painting for drawing and created a place for himself as one of Australia’s finest draughtsmen. A newfound understanding of the importance of paper type and surface, pencil grade and technique was crucial in liberating his approach and it enlightened his appreciation of the power of the line.
Rees became fascinated with light and with analysing the complexities of form in the landscape. He believed that line could ‘suggest the essential character of objects, more so than most renderings of light and shade’. He recalled this period:
The full measure of my highly detailed drawings of Sydney Harbour were done at McMahon’s Point. It was drawing purely for the sake of drawing. … [it] was simply an obsession and I was completely absorbed in the discovery of form and composition. The drawings were by no means naturalistic in the sense of simply selecting a subject and drawing it, for there were things bought in and things left out. They were highly worked and I had an intense interest in the manipulation of them. I drew in the morning and then took the work home and looked at in the afternoon and if I saw anything superfluous, I rubbed it out.1
Rees felt that by working closely with nature, he and the landscape would eventually become one. At times this obsession with analysing and detailing every form and facet of nature created an underlying psychological impact. While Rees paid homage to the landscape in this drawing, the shadows became dark and foreboding in this precisely composed environment.
1Lloyd Rees, Peaks and Valleys: An autobiography, Sydney: Collins, 1988, pp.166, 189, 193.
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