29 August – 15 September 2019
about the exhibition
Sarah Tomasetti is highly regarded for her luminous fresco paintings and installations. She has gained substantial knowledge and training in the traditional methods of fresco, using materials that have been employed since antiquity. The fresco surfaces that form the basis of her work are constructed by stretching cloth over a wall and laying down lime mortar over the top. The image is then rendered through successive transparent layers of staining and encaustic wax and, once complete, the work is detached from the wall and adhered to a panel of canvas, wood or stone. The cracked façade alludes to the process of “continual disintegration and reformation in nature” and is caused by the slow movement of moisture from the curing surface into the mass of the lime mortar wall. As Sarah explains, “Each work is an exploration of the complex interplay between the painted landscape and the fractal patterning that emerges randomly within the fresco skin.” This series of works is drawn from places along the pilgrimage route to Kailash, a sacred peak for Buddhists, Hindus, Jains and Bonpos. A living deity, the peak spawns four of the six great rivers of South Asia that diverge into thousands of tributaries on their way to the sea. It is a source of life and spiritual cleansing, a path on the journey to enlightenment. Sarah notes that, “The plateau is melting, in some places up to ten times faster than the poles. It would seem that research into the climate dynamics of the region increasingly aligns with the centuries old practice of reverence for the silver mountain, as the navel of the world and the source of all life. The plaster surface of the paintings echoes the means of decorating the walls of monasteries using the materials at hand. The slow tracing of the granite face of the mountain into the plaster by dot and scratch is, in itself, born of a devotional impulse.” These landscapes seek to explore our shifting relationship with the natural world in an atmosphere of contemporary unease, and are at once both fragile and contemplative.
Sarah Tomasetti graduated from RMIT University and La Trobe University, Melbourne with a graduate diploma in Fine Art and Italian Studies in 1994. After graduating, Sarah undertook an internship in fresco painting at the Laboratorio per Affresco di Vainella in Italy and, on returning to Australia, completed a Masters in Fine Art at RMIT University. She has undertaken further residencies in China, Fiji, Italy and the USA and has numerous solo and group exhibitions to her name. In 2018, Sarah was a finalist for the John Leslie Art Prize, and shortlisted for the prestigious landscape prize, the Fleurieu Biennale. Her work is represented in a number of public collections including Artbank, Newcastle Regional Art Gallery, BHP Billiton and National Australia Bank.