Good Weekend Art Column

Aida Tomescu – Fox Jensen Gallery, Sydney

Published September 26, 2019
Aida Tomescu, 'The Open Wounds of White Clouds' (2019)

Artist: Aida Tomescu

Lives: Elizabeth Bay, Sydney.

Age:  63

Represented by: Fox Jensen Gallery, Sydney; Fox Jensen McCrory, Auckland (no Melbourne representation)

Her thing: Vigorous abstract expressionist canvases with a palette of white and crimson.

Our take. Watching the development of Aida Tomescu’s work over the years has been a thrilling experience. With each new exhibition she has pushed a little harder, treating every painting as a battle that can only be won by repeated skirmishes. Oil paint is applied in thick patches, scraped off and dumped onto the floor. An unintelligible lexicon of signs and symbols is scratched into the painted surface, presumably with the other end of the brush.

It’s only in examining these panels up close that one becomes aware of all the earlier lives they have led. A work that looks overwhelmingly red may once have been blue or green. The time and effort the artist devotes to a picture makes a mockery of the idea that abstract art requires only a few random swipes of the brush or palette knife. For Tomescu, it seems that a work is never finished until it has been tortured for weeks on end.

It’s also a form of self-torture, but the results justify the means. The dominant tones in her latest show, The Open Wounds of White Clouds, are white and a dark, purplish crimson that will make viewers think of dried blood, or perhaps a rare burgundy. As Tomescu is an uncomprising abstractionist she imposes no limits on our imaginations.

Can I afford it?

Tomescu’s prices have been rising alongside her recognition as one of Australia’s leading painters – in any style. The least expensive items are two small, white panels, Argint III and Argint IV (each 60cm by 40cm) at $14,000. The top price belongs to the large triptych, Sewn onto Stones in the Sky (200cm by 800cm), which is selling for $200,000. Over the past couple of years the gallery has sold a brace of diptychs for $140,000 each. An extra panel would set a new record while continuing the same pricing ratio.

Where can I have a squiz?

Fox Jensen Gallery, 23A Roylston St. Paddington, Sydney. Until 5 Oct.


Published in The Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 September, 2019