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Watercolors Stronger Than Oils


With its fourth year and over 900 entries, the Dunlop Art Contest is well established as one of the

major annual events of the Australian art world, and this patronage and encourage- ment of art by an important industrial firm is something to be really jubilant about. The many generous prizes for both oil and watercolor painting should attract and stimulate artists all over Australia. Yet the prizewin- ning pictures, which, to- gether with a selected group of SA entries, are to be ex- hibited in John Martin's Gallery from today until August 15. are a very ordi- nary group of paintings. There is hardly a picture that is really exciting. The watercolors are defi- nitely stronger than the oils. There's a pearly subtlety in the free washes of 'Pent- land Hills. Bacchus Marsh.' by Len Annois (winner of the first watercolor award) though we do not find the structural feeling for form characteristic of the best I of this artist's work. I Jacqueline Hick's 'Beach I Party' (second watercolor j award) has a dry decorative quality, an almost Conder ish curve in its composition, that gives it distinction and charm. ? Catherine Jarvis, a com paratively unknown WA watercolorist, definit e 1 y merits the third award with her 'Thunder Clouds Over Perth,' simple, broad and ably realised. The oils are wholly disap pointing. The prizewinning picture, Scott Pendlebury's 'Late Afternoon, Rhyll,' completely lacks subtlety and with a slick harshness apes to a certain extent the contemporary appr o a c h , while having nothing of its essential spirit. 'Timber Clearing near Eaglehawk Neck' (second oil award winner) is not a first rate example of Arthur Boyd's work. There are no unifying rhythms,. and lack ing sufficient focal point, the canvas yawns emptily. In Max Ragless's bleached 'Spencer Gulf Country' (third oil award) the artist's direct, painter-like quality is pleasing, and Max Middle ton with a warm Wakelin palette has some solid form, but needs greater breadth and simplification in 'Po'- tery Works (fourth award winner) . Why a special award should have been made to the appalling pseudo 'Studio Corner' of Reyshid Bey passes comprehension. Among the selected SA entries there is a serious and sombre contribution, 'Nuns,' by Margarita Stipnieks; also two straightforward land scapes by Anton Riebe, a Timothy Messack, attractive in its slight way, a 'Still Life' by Clive Lock, which gives great evidence of spit and polish, and 'Lawn.' a small watercolor drawing by Juta Puust, that has move mentpossibly too much of it.