work    Harrison Galleries, Light Works, SYDNEY

06.09.10 to 25.09.10


The abstract paintings in Light Works are derived from Penny Coss’ experience and memory of walks through three distinctly different terrains:  a flat and leafy park surrounding a reed-filled lake, steeply contoured hills of natural bush riddled with winding paths, and vivid green playing fields. For Coss, the challenge is to channel her memory of these distinct yet adjacent sites toward aesthetic ends. Ends that are evocative of bodily and material expressions.

When walking Coss is conscious of the body’s ability to attune to different terrains and conditions and of the affect that glimpsing distant clearings – blue and green – has on one’s sense of space. As she paints, her canvases are rotated, with vertical and horizontal methods of painting employed to amplify the gravitational adjustments necessary for cross country walking and maintaining balance on uncertain ground.

Coss’ landscape paintings are never backdrops but spaces to inhabit and walk through. Astute placement of fixed forms are defied by spills and flows of paint. Combining cool retreats and hot spots of neon colour are also devices used to draw the viewer in.Coss revels in the process of translating her experience and memory of space through paint. She is mindful that focus, chaos, reverie and knowing (all aspects of the painting process) should equally become the viewers’ experience.

Time absorbed studio practice: methodically preparing surfaces with thin applications of paint, sensitively sanding back to create silky smooth and absorbent ground, mixing pigments and testing swatches of colour, lengthy periods of studying the paintings, reviewing work in progress through lens and screen are as much imbued in the final paintings as is the original landscape impetus. Coss refers to the work and play of her art practise as ‘thinking in painting, not thinking about painting’. It is the conflation of action and contemplation similar to the familiar routine of walking that Penny Coss shares with us.


Penny Bovell

August 2010

install view by Penny Coss
install view by Penny Coss
install view by Penny Coss
install view by Penny Coss
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