It’s not a matter of painting life, it’s a matter of giving life to painting.
Pierre Bonnard

In these times of multi-disciplinary art practice, where contemporary art can sit between and across art, architecture, design, anthropology, sociology, and even choreography, Adam Pyett’s pursuit of landscape painting could easily be regarded as traditional, if not anachronistic. However, anyone who has had the sheer pleasure of standing in front of and truly absorbing Pyett’s images of the Australian bush will immediately comprehend that these works are not really about the landscape at all. They are about painting.

Even after its invention some 40,000 years ago, the application of paint onto a two-dimensional surface can still, in the hands of an artist like Pyett, seem like a magical act. Horizon lines are conjured with a stroke of mauve paint, tree trunks are built from an array of unlikely and decidedly ‘unnatural’ colours, and a pink blush of sky is created by a tapestry of different hues that dissolve into exactly the desired effect as one steps back from the canvas and surveys the scene in its entirety.

The works in this exhibition powerfully evoke the physical and emotional experience of being in the Australian landscape – the crackle of dry gum leaves underfoot or the slap of cold air on a clear, bright day at Mount Kosciuszko – drawing on Pyett’s study of artists ranging from Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton to Claude Monet and Pierre Bonnard, but they are also about the artist’s joy in pushing the creative possibilities his medium. Pyett’s paintings create a sense of active, engaged viewing as the eye dances from one area of the composition to another – from thick layers of paint to passages where it is applied so lightly that it is almost like a whisper. Our eye refuses to settle – shifting across the improbable colour combinations that together make a tree trunk, or a bush floor built from stippled areas of green, blue, brown and even pink, paint.

A masterful combination of realism and abstraction, Pyett’s paintings continue to sustain and reward, revealing unexpected surprises and delights on each new viewing.

Kelly Gellatly is a curator, writer and arts advocate is the founding director of Agency Untitled