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Ashley Frost

Ashley Frost's new show at Stella Downer Fine Art shows an artist working in close relationship to the landscape as it shifts beneath his gaze, and brush.

In Escarpment Study 1, 2021, cold blue light permeates the eucalypts. We are left to speculate as to whether this is shade or simply the cool light of a sunrise or set, our view of the scene delimited by the tight packing of tree trunks into the middle ground. Brightness falls on a central trunk as a field of turquoise and cold yellow; strokes of cobalt are scattered across the ground like (or, perhaps, as) leaves. In Escarpment Study 2, 2021, however, these blue shadows are swept off the trees by a flush of warm – almost saccharine – light. 

Frost’s recent paintings emerge from time spent in the Illawarra Range, the most extensive area of rainforest in the Sydney Basin. Accessed by the Wodi Wodi Track, which Frost also paints in this new series, this escarpment forest runs sometimes only a few hundred metres from the sea. Frost is interested not only in the convergence of these two environments, but in the way that the light moves through the forest, often bouncing off the sea to be dispersed through the trees. 

The suite’s uniqueness, and its most affecting element, is in its serialised structure. Moving through the escarpment forest on the South Coast of New South Wales as the light, too, moves through it, Frost has built an attentive, thoughtful relationship with this place. His handling of oils is delicate, and gestural: the brushstrokes speak, that is, of a relationship to locality that is at once deeply thought through and deeply felt. As the cycles of the days and of the seasons pass across Frost’s paintings, he builds a record of accumulation and diminution – light and darkness falling each in their turn. With many paintings named after the particular places in which they were taken, or the species of native flora that they depict, the series becomes a kind of diary in oils: equally ‘about’ the specifics of Frost’s experience, and his attachments to them.

While Sydney moves deeper into lockdown this July, Frost’s catalogue is available to view online, at Stella Downer. 

EXHIBITION
Escarpment
29 June – 24 July 2021
Stella Downer Fine Art, Sydney

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