First published in The Times, Malta, February 27, 1997.
Reprinted here with the kind permission of Lara Strickland.

Memories and reflections

by Lara Strickland

No stranger to exhibiting at the Museum of Fine Arts, this is Carmen Pizzuto's second solo exhibition in less than two years. Once again her works are on show in the Contemporary Hall, but instead of miniatures, this time we are asked to feast our eyes on something much larger.

Australian Interlude is the name given to this collection of oils where Pizzuto reflects on the 14 years spent living on that distant continent. Her oils are exclusively landscape scenes illustrating particular places and moments close to her heart.

On entering the room, my first impression was of being surrounded by colour. Executed in warmly glowing tones, the paintings lend a welcoming and lingering aspect to the room. Pizzuto has encouraged colour to take precedence over form and in fact the paintings do speak for themselves through the sheer sensuousness of colour. Burnt orange, warm mustard, deep reds and browns dominate the colder purples and blues.

Although representative of places visited and seen, Pizzuto's landscapes have more than a touch of the abstract. Layer over layer of paint is freely applied allowing for the subsequent build-up of pigment and texture. Her treatment of subject matter is seemingly vague and hazy as the grainy 'impasto' conveys a feel for a much loved far-away land. Considering all 15 oils are painted from memory and that landscape paintings is a first for her, the energy and emotion conveyed are remarkable.

One of my favourites is High Summer — Along the Calder Highway where horizontal sweeps of colour provide the foundations for a larger than life glowing amber sun. Into the Beyond and High Summer can be taken as a pair with similar soft horizontals, strong vertical accents together with a mixing of paint directly onto the canvas.

Song of Evening — Hanging Rock is a medley of powerful complimentary colours. Purple and yellow, blue and orange are painted over a layer of black which is occasionally encouraged to penetrate through the overlying colours. With Dreamtime — Hanging Rock, I see a musical variation on the blue and orange theme. A solid curvy feel underlies the composition while simultaneously supporting thick diagonals.

Well worth a visit, especially for those of us by now familiar with Pizzuto's miniatures, the exhibition will remain open till mid-March.

(Image not yet available)
[ Image: High Summer — Along the Calder Highway ]

[ Image: Song of Evening — Hanging Rock ]