Gullett’s masterful Geometric Abstractions (Oil on Panel) are a construction and deconstruction of arrangements. In this series, Gullett explores the interplay of colour and compositions, creating a lively dialogue within and between the works. A recurring motif features within many of the works in the series – these pieces play to each other in a sympathetic vibration of sorts. Viewing or procuring the works as a pair or collection highlights the striking conversation between the shifting shapes.
Gullett’s Raga Series (Oil on Linen) examines the confluence between painting and music in the Rajput tradition of Indian culture. Within each Raga, Gullett explores colour and layering, making reference to melodic structure and spirituality in the Raga tradition. As such, each Raga seems to possess distinctive notes and energy levels. These are deeply peaceful works. The immersive quality of the Raga series is strengthened by their large scale and highly textured ‘loom state’ linen.
We visited Gullett’s Sydney studio – a large, collaborative studio space shared with five other artists – to view her works in progress, and catch up on her most recent influences.
Celia, thank you for having us at your studio! Please tell us about your recent inspirations and processes?
What propels my work is a fascination for colour and surface. I’m interested in working with colour. It has meaning. It has structure. It can be elusive, it can be emotive. But as a single entity, it’s really limitless. In terms of colour, my inspiration comes from observing. Anything can trigger a painting – an arrangement in nature, or a partnership of colours I might find in the non-natural world. Light and its effect on colour is vital to the way I observe. Surface is something that can in itself be seductive, but surface is affected by how we apply the matter, the substance of paint. The way a brush delivers paint to the surface is really the hand writing, the mark making. This mark making is such an important part of my practice, it’s a language I am constantly developing.
In both my Colour Fields and my small geometric pieces I am investigating colour and surface. The Colour Fields works are nearly always inspired by a desire to dialogue with one colour. Within this one colour there are many versions, so I tend to layer versions of, for example blue, until the work has enough depth. Generally, when the depth is right, the painting is finished.
The Geometrics are a little different, in that there are more colours. It’s about composing – balancing those colours within a motif that supports the colours. Often one colour calls for another, in a certain tone or density. In this way, I can choose between a discord or a harmony, depending on what I am trying to explore.
The panels I work on give a very different surface to the effects of paint on heavy linen. Multi layered, glazed, altered until everything sits perfectly together. I’m totally inspired by my trips to India. The Ragas have a strong connection to the culture and history, in particular the music. This led to a need to harmonise or make each colour speak to the others in each painting, creating a narrative in colour.
Please tell us about your new work? What are you exploring? Is it linked to your previous work?
My new work is a continuation what I have been doing. I’m inspired by the works of Fra Angelico, not so much in terms of their religious subjects, although I think they go way beyond the Christian beliefs and go closer to pure painting, pure spirit. The palette is limited by the pigments that were available at the time. The extraordinary use of these colours is wonderful. I find so much relevance for this use of colour in my own work, it speaks to me.
View Celia Gullett’s Online Gallery, or make a time to view the works within our Melbourne and Tetbury Gallery spaces.