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Maree Azzopardi's recent paintings plot the impact of the Australian landscape on the artist, both emotionally and spiritually, and the idea of taking a journey from the bush to the outback, both real and imagined. Initially her works were created in response to the destruction of the Black Summer Fires. Her "fire-works" in black and gold are created from different strata of paint, charcoal, Sumi Japanese ink and lacquer. In such paintings as "I Heard The Earth Praying", gilded texts emerge from the highly textured surfaces, while painterly details focus on the regenerative nature of wattle. The paint is sometimes as coarse as a hessian sack, with angular elements including wire fences, burnt branches and budding leaves.
While Azzopardi's more minimal landscapes represent what she calls "the expansive nothingness of the outback", her sparse paintings of horizons and highways suggest their own narratives, made up from many layers of pale terracotta, dusty pink and skin-tones. In some of her latest paintings, Azzopardi views the landscape from above. Her birds-eye panoramas show meandering rivers, ridges and bush tracks. It is as though she is creating her own topographical map of emotions, documenting the natural processes of recovery after loss, and healing through dreams.
Flirting with abstraction, Maree Azzopardi unveils a series of new canvases and landscapes on paper, in a journey away from her well-known photographic works. Created over the past year and keeping pace with the successive waves of isolation, these outdoor scenes are drenched in a nature bubbling over with revitalized life. Formal aspects centre on empty and filled space, on shadow and light, on rich gold and cavernous black. She uses her paintings to explore the shifting contemporary perception of the most ordinary features in our abstracted environment, from views of burnt-out bushland to deserted highways with white lines on baked asphalt. Azzopardi questions our relationship to the image and the capacity for painting to transcend our vision of an increasingly uniform world. The crushed, smeared, scratched and scraped surfaces she works on, similar to skin, reveal unexplored detours on her horizons. Each canvas in #Roadtrip becomes an examination of the purpose of painting, the role it plays in the long pictorial tradition, and its ability to represent and enchant the world.
Maree Azzopardi’s work is included in private and public collections in Australia, Italy, Malta, Sweden and the U.S., including in Artbank Australia, St Vincent’s Public Hospital in Sydney, Collezione Farhad in Rome, Collezione De Cecco in Pescara (Italy), The French Embassy and MUZA in Valletta (Malta) and Marisa Del Re Gallery in New York. She has exhibited alongside such prominent artists as Cindy Sherman and Annie Leibovitz (USA), Tracey Moffatt (Aus), Vanessa Beecroft (Italy), Inez van Lamsweerde (Netherlands), Myriam Laplante (Canada) and Marina Abramovic (Serbia).
In 1995, Azzopardi was artist-in-residence at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, where she produced her award-winning Chrysalis series. An image from her Momento Mori series from Missing...From the Garden appeared as the front cover of the prestigious American art journal, ARTnews (1998) and an image from Fishworks appeared on the front cover of Photofile, Australia (2000). Her exhibition Celeste was part of the 2001 Australian Centenary of Federation celebrations in Malta.
In 2004 she was awarded artist-in-residence at Bundanon on the south coast of NSW. Azzopardi was one of five international artists representing Galleria II Ponte Contemporanea, Rome at the Melbourne International Art Fair in 2004. In 2005, Azzopardi exhibited Spiritlandat St James Cavalier in Valletta, Malta, as part of the Australia Day celebrations, supported by Emirates and the Australian Chamber of Commerce in Malta. Her Italian survey exhibition The Poet Assassinated was exhibited at Galleria Zerotre in Orvieto in 2005 and The All Australian Show was exhibited in Galleria Il Ponte Contemporeanea in Rome and Lipanjepuntin Arte Contemporanea in Trieste. Azzopardi was awarded the 2006 Hills Grammar Art Prize for a work from her Vox HUMANA series. Azzopardi simultaneously exhibited The HUMANA Series – Shadow, Relic & Flesh (2007) curated by Jonathan Turner (Italy's curator of the year) at Libby Edwards Galleries in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, and then later in Malta, Italy and Sweden. In 2007 Azzopardi was also a finalist in The Blake Prize and the Willoughby Art Prize.
In 2008 she was invited to create new work for the show Chaos and Revelry at Counihan Gallery in Melbourne, curated by Edwina Bartlem, which then traveled to Galleria II Ponte Contemporanea in Rome, Italy and Galleri Tapper- Popermajer in Malmo, Sweden. In the same year her work was included in the Dubai Art Fair.
In 2009 she presented her first painting exhibition I Walk The Line at Smith & Hall Gallery in Sydney and was included in Matt Dive Gold at Lipanjepuntin Contemporary Art Gallery in Rome, Italy. She was also a finalist in The Paddington Art Prize.
In 2011 Azzopardi was included in Women & Co. curated by Francesca Pietracci, with Marina Abramovic, Vanessa Beecroft, Nan Goldin, Andy Warhol and others at Studio 88 in Roma, Italy. The same year her solo show Land Lines and Love Songs took place at David Rex-Livingston Gallery in Sydney. In 2012, she exhibited at Ausin Tung Gallery (Australian China Art Foundation) in Melbourne. Azzopardi was a finalist in the 24th Muswellbrook Photographic Award and in the Black Prize Director's Cut Exhibition on-line in 2013. She exhibited in the group show Water Art Women Life (Aqua Arte Mujeres Vida) in Santiago, Chile and Argentina (2014) and in Texas, USA and Berlin (2015). This exhibition was part of the Direzione Alterita Festival in Puglia Cisternino, Italy, in 2017.
In 2015 Azzopardi was invited to be part of The Beyond Malta exhibition and three of her works now form part of the MUZA Collection in Valletta. Azzopardi was also included in the exhibition for GHOGM Malta 2015, Departure, Memory, Nostalgia, Identity and Return at the House Of Representatives of Malta in Valletta. Her solo exhibition entitled INVICTUS was held at David Rex-Livingston Art & Objects in Katoomba in December 2017. In 2018 she was a finalist in the Blake Prize, the Pro Hart Outback Prize and the JADA Prize. In 2019, her Exquisite Corpse exhibition was staged at St James Cavalier in Valletta, Malta, as part of the Spazu Kreativ programme then at Il Ponte Contemporeanea in Rome, Italy and Galleri Tapper- Popermajer in Malmo, Sweden.
In 2021, Azzopardi's work has been selected as a finalist in The Adelaide Perry Drawing Prize, The Dobell Drawing Prize, the Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize, The Naked & Nude Prize, The Gosford Art Prize and The Blacktown City Art Prize.
Maree Azzopardi is represented by Rex-Livingston Art & Objects in NSW, Galleria Il Ponte Contemporeanea in Rome and Galleri Tapper- Popermajer in Malmo, Sweden.
#ROADTRIP is Azzopardi’s third solo exhibition with Rex-Livingston Art + Objects.
Jonathan Turner has curated more than 15 exhibitions on three continents with Maree Azzopardi, since they first started working together in 1996.
Curated by Jonathan Turner
Exhibition opening - Saturday 20 November 2-4pm
Exhibition on view: 20 November to 6 December 2021