Cameron Haas: Resonate. Nancy Sever Gallery. Until August 21. nancysevergallery.com.au.
Cameron Haas, since 2018, has had four solo exhibitions of paintings at the Nancy Sever Gallery and, as one can anticipate, there is a considerable consistency in his work over the past couple of years.
Haas makes very elegant and accomplished nonfigurative paintings executed in acrylic paints on primed linen usually measuring a bit over a metre but on occasion reaching almost two metres. They are clever, chromatically intense paintings with a vibrating quality as masses of colour appear suspended in space and floating free of one another. As a viewer, you are invited to "enter" the work and to create your own reality and find yourself within the painting. His titles are characteristically unhelpful and contain no clues for interpretation so that the task to create meaning and interpretation lies exclusively with the viewer.
To some extent, they are also very deliberate, carefully calculated paintings, where Haas has established the ground rules early in the process and then refines the concept in the process of work. Little is left to chance with the artist to some extent colouring in his original concept.
Haas writes about this working method: "Each painting starts with pencil on paper as a line drawing, the initial composition must have an uncomplicated authority in how it sits on the stark white paper. This basic but fundamental beginning is an essential foundation on which I make paintings. Colour is added and adjusted as the drawing becomes more fully realised into what will be the final work."
He continues, "This allows me to interact with the individual paintings sensitively, as a whole work. It is my intention that these paintings will have a unique resonance with each viewer."
Although there is a uniformity throughout this exhibition and one could think of it as a set number of variations on a theme, some of the paintings are more successful and memorable than others. His painting Untitled # 71 is one of the more memorable works at this exhibition. As a word of caution, Haas's paintings photograph poorly and they need to be experienced in the flesh for full impact. In this work, the heightened yellow form dominates the composition and swallows the surrounding space. At first glance, this is a very simple composition, but then on further examination the colour complexities start to reveal themselves. There is an elaborate and intricate play between the flat planes of colour that are suspended in space and seem to overlap or sink under the surface of the dominant shape.
The shapes themselves appear independent of recognisable forms - they are simply elegant shapes cut out of colour and floated onto the canvas. As in a number of his paintings, Haas seems to have preference for deep, acidy colours that are painful to the eye such as intense canary yellow, neon green and blue and crimson red.
What for me saves Haas's paintings from a superficial decorativeness is the subtlety in the colour nuances. The bold blocks of colour that burn into your eye are delicately balanced in some of the stronger paintings, such as Untitled #61 and #64, with a tracery of shapes and contrasted with slithers of unexpected colours that immediately enliven the surface.
Haas is a young artist who is in the process of establishing his own peculiar language in nonfigurative colour painting. One can only hope that he does not suffer through overexposure at this early stage in his work.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.