Veronica O'Leary - 'Immersed'

Wednesday 2  - Sunday 27 October 2019


Veronica O’Leary’s work is inspired by the coastal Australian landscape. For the past decade she has painted the sky and seascapes of southern New South Wales, conducting studies en plein air with pencil and gouache before developing larger scale oil-based works in her Tathra studio.

Born in Gordonvale in North Queensland, O’Leary was surrounded by sugar cane fields, vibrant vegetation and big coloured skies: it was this dramatic landscape that shaped her interest in painting. A process that is immediate and physical, O’Leary works in a range of media every day in her garden studio. Detailed observations of the natural world are mixed with more gestural statements on light, colour, texture and the mood of the landscape. Her palette is bold and saturated; colours are applied energetically without the addition of any medium. She favours in particular a palette of blue blacks, viridian, vermillion and red oxides in her oil paintings and are typically applied over an acrylic underpainting. Layers of colour exaggerate and intensify the apocalyptic mood of O’Leary’s sky and seascapes.

Her paintings explore the juxtaposition of stillness and motion, the writhe and fall of light at times of the day in different weathers. Her intention is to thrust the viewer into the sublime: to elicit reflections on the power and scale of our landscapes. In her work there is also a strong sense of the fragility of our natural environment and of its increasingly unpredictability. For O’Leary, the world is layered, ominous and sweeping with change.

Immersed is the artist’s response to the 2018 bushfires that raged through NSW and came very close to destroying the family home, a studio full of journals and an art practice of more than 35 years.