Submitted Review

Julia Trybala ‘Hold a body together’

  • Station Gallery • Melbourne

  • Donald Holt • Published 24 January 2021

‘It’s also undeniably a female gaze.’

I had seen one or two small works by Julia Trybala a few years ago. Small works on board with yellow daffodils with inky shadows, tight cropped and over scaled for the support. The way the blocks of colour sat on the surface and the way this image was at once an abstraction that slowly drew out an image. Flirty, intimate and sensuous, as if trailing your hair along a lover’s cheek.

The exhibition in the rear space of Station Gallery, Melbourne has five modestly scaled paintings, much larger than the earlier ones, and two drawings. There is an accompanying poem by Chelsea Hart and another painting from the same suite hung in the office.

The move to canvas changed the touch. It is now a more modelled group of forms with instructive gestural outlines and rolling tonal blending. Parts are scumbled back to stains on the surface, others overpainted to flat but intense saturations. The “straight from the tube” intensity of colour seen in earlier works is still here and works to usher the eye around the jumble of shapes.

Limbs, fingers and toes pinch and squeeze the coloured forms, that may be fruit or breasts or nipples or pencils. It’s sensuous and tender. It’s also undeniably a female gaze. The closeness to the subject and the folded intertwined nature of the forms have a fullness that drives emotional urgency to be in the moment at the expense of narrative. The heat and depth of colour makesthe heart race.

The pallet has changed too, now, dialled up vermillion and sober bluey greens. There is scarlet, like cochineal stains, and many, many pinks jostling with jaundiced ochre for dominance on the surface. They conspire with the perplexing unbiased weighting of the compositions and holds you there until the subject emerges.