WAG facade to take on a new glow

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The Warrnambool Art Gallery will take on a vibrancy and glow in the coming weeks, when Ballarat artist Ash Keating turns the Liebig Street entrance into a conversation of colour that reflects the sometimes gentle, sometimes intense palette of sunsets in the South West region of Victoria.

His work on the Gallery façade is part of the Wallawar Festival that will be held at WAG 26 November– 5 December. Wallawar is a Peek Woorong word for glow.

“Ash Keating’s action painting Sunset Response will be a dynamic experience as he uses fire extinguishers filled with paint to spray the entrance to the Gallery with colour over five days from 29 November and recreate some of those seemingly impossible colours of the skies and atmospherics of the South West,” Warrnambool Art Gallery Director Vanessa Gerrans said.

“The idea of glow and sunsets are emblematic to Ash at this time when many people are taking solace in the natural world, while they must stay at home. Many of his recent paintings have explored the colours of sunsets through the greys and misty colours of winter.”

Ash is well known for his large scale works in public places including Green Square at RMIT and the billboard at the National Gallery of Victoria. For the better part of the past decade, he has been using fire hydrants full of paint to create his splash art works that layer colour rapidly over large surfaces in a spectacular way.

He said that using fire extinguishers allows him to create a large scale abstract expressionist style that has a lot of gravity and pull as the paint descends the surface of the wall. He balances the paint using fire extinguishers filled with water.

“It is about creating immersive painting that reflects the spectacle of nature that we all enjoy but then bringing it into painting. It is quite spontaneous and because it is large scale it is a bit like action painting,” he said.

Even though the act of painting is improvised, there is a considered period of preparation for creating the works, where Ash will plan the colour and colour fields and spend a week or more carefully filling the extinguishers with the hues of paint and diluting them with water.

“I will do that before I come and then the first half of the project at the WAG will be doing a lot of undercoat and applying varying gradients of colour,” he said.

Ash said he loved seeing the luminescent colour spectrum of the South West Victorian horizon which were shared with him by locals.

Ash’s large scale facade painting takes place from Monday 29 November (painting times will be weather dependent). Those who would like to watch him at work, should keep an eye on the Gallery.