Mount Buffalo waterfall in the Australian Alps
The Australian Alps in winter display an overall greyness because of the massive rocks, heavy mists and snow in marked contrast to the colours chosen by the artist Matthew Moss' Mount Buffalo waterfall. The canvas is executed in variations of green ranging from light cadmium greens mixed with titanium white to zinc yellow and fight cadmium yellow through to deeper tones of the same colours in the middle passages. The massive boulders from which the waterfall cascades are painted in a fight, rococo manner with the only other colour in the canvas, the grey-blue sky, providing the foil. The solitary rock on the right is executed with some impasto provided by the addition of alumina hydrate zeolite pigment.
The artist used acrylic colours for the flat tones in the very light area at the top of the canvas. In addition, Matthew used oil based pigments for the modelling of the contours of the rocks and waterfall. The painting's support is a fine grained Belgian linen primed with a white gesso. Over this and extending to the lower levels of the footbridge an undercoat of fight blue in acrylic has been added, giving a cool appearance to this part of the canvas.
In the lower section an undercoat of a dark lead tone in acrylic has been added. Here, deeper tones of oxide of chromium and olive green emphasise the darkness of the priming, creating a dark cavern spanned by the footbridge. The two bridge supports display a climbing vine while the seething waters of the river are executed in variations of olive green and white, in a graphic linear manner. The painting was begun in August 1980 and based on a series of pencil sketches, although the main composition was from a drawing of a footbridge crossing a rock strewn torrent which was fairly complete in itself. It was as a consequence only necessary to incorporate a second drawing, a massive precipice, to complete the composition.
By selecting a non-naturalistic range of colours, the artist distanced himself from any tendency to naturalism. Although the subject is recognisable as a bridge over a waterfall, it can be seen in the manner in which he has sketched the bridge, the delineation of the rocks and the formal arrangement of the water's movement, that the artist has chosen the subject matter as an exercise in calligraphy. He has extended the range of tones from a limited selection of colours and established the form of the details in the most economical manner. Two years after the painting was completed it was reworked but to a minor degree.
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