Under the Sea
- Yvonne Audette
- Under the Sea
- gouache and ink on paper
- 29.5 x 39.5 cm
signed lower right: YA 86
Related work: Under the Sea 1956 – 57, oil on composition board, 128.5 x 167.5 cm
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The 2014 monograph about Audette’s work summarises her artistic development as a “peripatetic journey that began with an ambitious young student going between her distinctively different, somewhat misanthropic but always inspiring teachers. Then there was her shift from Sydney to New York, and the maturation of her work in Italy, a cultural environment beautifully encrusted by the past yet enlivened by modern panache. In mid-career she uprooted herself from all this to return to her city of birth, only to abandon it again for the high pocket of forest growth that became the private space that nurtured her later work.”
Heathcote & Adams, Yvonne Audette Paintings and Drawings 1949 – 2014, Macmillan, 2014, p. 173
A dedicated student, Audette actively sought to surround and expose herself to contemporary art sources, experiences and teachers in order to absorb and redefine in her own unique oeuvre. This in turn undergoes her rigorous examination, with later work referring to and reenergised by earlier constructions. Her abstraction is complex, deliberate and carefully constructed, although there is an element of intuition with the formal construct often based on capturing the essence of a sensation, season or place.
Audette undertook her early studies in Sydney at the Julian Ashton School with Henry Gibbons and then from 1951 with John Passmore who was to inspire her with his grater emphasis on colour and building a composition through geometric building blocks, influenced by Cezanne. She furthered her academic learning at the East Sydney Technical School with Lyndon Dadswell, as well as drawing sessions with Godfrey Miller, his abstract focus entwined with a personal mysticism. On the completion of her studies, Audette travelled and unlike the traditional European tour, she started in America, living in New York at a time when abstract expressionism was just coming to the fore through the work of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky and Mark Tobey, among others. In 1955, Audette travelled to Europe, settling in Italy where she remained for more than a decade, taking in the influence of European abstraction and developing her own unique language based on a wide variety of experiences, including encounters of contemporary art as well as diverse periods from both east and western art history through her extensive travels.
The significance of drawing has maintained an importance in Audette’s practice throughout her career. Studies on paper allow an outlet to absorb and experiment and extend her ideas. Whilst some are studies for paintings, others are artworks in their own right. “It is in the drawings that creative solutions are first realised and changes of direction are foreshadowed.” (Heathcote & Adams, 2014, p. 231) Audette continues teaching drawing to this day, stressing the importance of a solid academic grounding and imparting her experience in imbuing line with expression and an awareness of its place and balance within a composition.
Audette also uses earlier drawings as inspiration and references for later work; to reflect, re-examine and refine. The cyclical nature of her sources allows for subjects to be reenergised, sometimes years later as seen here in a work on paper created some thirty years after her painting of the same name.