Two artists united by landscapes

LIVING/COLOUR

Alibi Cocktail Bar, Crown Street, Wollongong

January 2-31

Creativity is an intensely personal thing. Your ideas, your process, your finished product will always be different to someone else's.

So when embarking on a joint exhibition, it can be challenging for artists involved to find a common ground that unifies their work, that makes sense of the variety of ideas expressed in art. Luckily for Wollongong painters TS Zaracostas and Angela Forrest, it didn't take long for them to realise what that was.

"We're coming from the same love of the landscape, I think that is the binding that pulls it together," Forrest says.

"When I look at my work and Angela's there is a similarity: subject matter, and maybe approach, are a little bit the same," Zaracostas adds.

The women met as members of the Illawarra Association of the Visual Arts, a group for contemporary artists.

But the styles they have chosen to showcase in this exhibition could not be more different.

While both painters use ply and board as their canvas, Forrest has pursued an abstract style, focusing mainly on colour, for her portrayal of landscape, whereas Zaracostas prefers to paint more realistic images of Illawarra flora, fauna and scenery, often adding little bits of mixed media.

"For instance, in one of these paintings I have some snake skin, or when I paint old sheds I incorporate a little bit of the shed that has fallen off," she says.

Zaracostas has been painting on a professional level since completing her studies at West Wollongong TAFE in 2004. Her interest in the landscape lies particularly in the fate of creatures affected by natural or human interference, such as the development of housing estates and bushfires that destroy their habitat.

"It's mostly along the lines of how people should be aware of nature with the way we live with nature," she says.

While Forrest also depicts scenes as they appear in real life in some of her works, lately she has been inspired to cut loose. Her abstract pieces focus on the interplay between different colours and the feelings they evoke, drawn from hues seen in the landscape.

"This is more my downloading, peaceful style," she says.

"Overall, the pieces are quite integrated and harmonious.

"Some have become more solid, geometric shapes, but many are more organic, that whole dance between structure in painting and losing its form."

Forrest cannot pick a favourite way to work, but says the abstract pieces are more challenging because it is hard to know when to stop.

"A lot of people look at abstract and think they can do it, that it's just a few brushstrokes of colour, but it's much more than that," she says.

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