Sarah Tomasetti’s work is distinguished by luminous fresco paintings that deal with glacial and mountainous landscapes in states of rapid change. 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 made on a wall constructed with lime mortar and then detached by means of a cloth embedded early in the process. On these surfaces she paints landscapes, rendered through successive transparent layers of staining and encaustic wax. 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. “My relationship to landscape is an emotional one. I seek out locations and subjects that have traditionally been the vector of romantic longings and re-examine them through a lens inevitably loaded with dread of the rapid melt”. The cracking within the surface of the paintings 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.”
In 2020 Sarah Tomasetti was awarded the prestigious John Leslie Art Prize for her painting of a Tibetan Mountain – ‘Kailash from the Air’, described by Gippsland Art Gallery director Simon Gregg as “a dazzling tour-de-force that draws you in”. 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. Sarah also has work represented in a number of private and public collections including Artbank, Macquarie Bank, BHP Billiton and National Australia Bank.