27 Jun – 22 Jul 2012


In Tomescu’s mature paintings the sheer physicality of paint, its density and the archaeology of the layers, its application and movement across the surface, is inseparable from the content. The tenor of the work is guided by its colouration and by its internal rhythms, like the variations and tonalities in music. At times the density of the paint is reminiscent of earth or old walls encrusted with layers of paint and matter over time. In relation to mood and feeling, some of the cool, meditative paintings appear to be floating in space.

- Deborah Hart, Senior curator, Australian Paintings and Sculpture post-1920, National Gallery of Australia

AIDA TOMESCU | Artist statement - On painting / drawing

In spite of the works openness, images are intensively worked, scraped off repeatedly and re-configured looking for something that is unified full and ordered. I tend to begin a new working cycle almost always with paper. They often develop into a series. Working on a sequence of drawings allows for fluidity, sets conditions for rapid changes which suits my work. One thing changes, passes onto another, each image becoming both a work in itself, but also a step towards another, imminently productive of something else. 

As I begin to feel my way into the work there is always this mounting tension between what I see, know or hope is there and what I struggle to see on that surface.

There is a moment when the surface I’ve been working with becomes very responsive – opening up intriguing possibilities; I am no longer working ( engaged ) with a passive surface. With painting the rhythm builds up in speed as I slowly reach a faster, more involved way of working. Time changes as this rhythm intensifies. You compress reality, you compress imagery, you can’t afford dead space in a work. But paradoxically there is also a slowness to the image, a delay. I am aware that I am doing contradictory things all the time, like trying to control the image, yet at the same time needing to unfix it, to have it breathe; being aware of the mark I am making that very moment as well as overseeing the whole image at once. 

Although my work in general is in no doubt the result of a changing artistic practice; it doesn’t stand outside of the history of painting and drawing. It comes out of this history which obviously involves the development of abstraction. 

A painting can be measured by the distance an image can travel away from figuration, away from abstraction, in order to become itself – in order to become life. 

Painting is a form of questioning on canvas. I think the trouble sometimes is that we expect a work to explain too much... if anything you want it to be alive, to stay open until it reaches a point where nothing feels arbitrary anymore. 

Notes on Tethys series.

Tethys is the ancient sea that no longer exists. Geologists, like Eduard Suess who named Tethys in 1893 after the Greek sea goddess, have found fossils of ocean creatures in the rocks in the Himalayas, indicating that these rocks were once underwater. What was once the great Tethys Sea has become the Mediterranean Sea. The Black, Caspian and Aral Seas area also thought to be its remains.

Tethys as an idea for my work came to mind as I began to find my way into the white paintings. While I was engaged with what my first white canvas was trying to express, there was also this sense of silence, the silence of unknown spaces which began enveloping the work. As it happened, the first two white paintings changed in character and in mood mid course and they became the Windfall works. The third canvas I was working on in parallel to them became the first of the Tethys paintings. 

Aida Tomescu 2010