09
Jul

Highlights from the ANU Art Collection: Liz Coats

Liz Coats, Soundings - 4, 1984, acrylic on canvas. Donated to the ANU Art Collection in 2016.

The ANU Art Collection, established in 1949, comprises over 2900 paintings, sculptures, drawings, limited edition prints, and ceramic and glass objects. In this series of posts, produced in collaboration with Drill Hall staff, interns and student volunteers, we introduce a rich selection of works from the collection, providing insight into the individual artworks and the artists that have created them.

Liz Coats’ Soundings – 4 is a finely distilled abstract composition by an artist who pursues the most refined, elusive and exquisite effects in her paintings. There is an exalted feeling of unity throughout her extremely varied yet utterly consistent life’s work, extending from the 1970s till the present.

This painting situates one circle within another, and a square within a square. Already there is an implied projection or a concentration of focus established by the linear geometry. There is a sort of alchemical magic, produced by the interaction of colour, which activates the five coin like spots of coppery brown, which take on a metallic lustre. Many archetypal ideas are conveyed by these elementary forms: the shape of the eye, the planetary systems, Vitruvian man, microscopic observation, macroscopic observation, sonar, atoms and much besides.

She has allowed the white primer to shine through the superstructure of ruled lines in burnt sienna, the geometrical figures in a paler tint and the disconnected dabs of orange, blue and yellow. The superstructure is like a delicate screen. There is a sort of alchemical magic, produced by the interaction of colour, which activates the five coin like spots of coppery brown, which take on a metallic lustre. The circle and the square counterpoise the undifferentiated, glowing field, with its indeterminate space as if it were some sort of viewing device.

Coats explains that her colour choices “are responsive to conditions in the local environment, both colours as they are perceived dimensionally in light, and translated through the dynamic potential of water‐based paint media”

Liz Coats gained her Ph.D. in painting from the ANU School of Art in 2012.

The monograph Liz Coats: Active seeing was published by Drill Hall Publishing in 2017. It can be purchased through the gallery or from our website. 

Other work by Liz Coats in the ANU Art Collection:

Liz Coats, Second nature #17, 2015, acrylic on canvas. Acquired for the ANU Art Collection in 2015.

 

Liz Coats, Cicada B8, 1992, pigments and acrylic on canvas. Gifted by the artist to the ANU Art Collection in 2017.

The following links provide more information on Liz Coats:

lizcoats.com.au

Utopia Art Sydney

Canberra Times article 2017

Geoform interview 2006

Updated:  9 July 2020/ Responsible Officer:  DHG Director/ Page Contact:  Drill Hall Gallery