Abstract Earth: The Photography of Richard Woldendorp showcases the incredible skill of this early pioneer of aerial photography, as it is almost impossible to distinguish whether his untouched photographic works are photographs or indeed painted works of art.
Woldendorps first aerial landscapes date from the 1960s, but it was a genre that he rapidly made his own. Nowadays, as a veteran of many flights and with seventeen books and numerous exhibitions behind him, the Dutch-born Woldendorp is acknowledged as a giant of Australian photography.
Abstract Earth is not just landscape; its the landscape as seen by Woldendorp, who trained as a painter and still views the world through a painters eye. Although each picture in the exhibition is a precise record of a landscape seen from the air, these scenes have the power and presence of large abstract paintings. Many works bear a striking resemblance to the canvases of Abstract Expressionists and Colour-Field painters, and to the works of Aboriginal artists. They may look like worksimagination, but they are indeed astonishing records of concrete reality.
Seen together, Woldendorps images reveal the incredible beauty and diversity of this country. As such, he has created a unique and important body of work that challenges how we experience and understand our place within the Australian landscape.
Curated by John McDonald and R. Ian Lloyd, Abstract Earth: The Photography of Richard Woldendorp is on display at the Art Gallery of Western Australia
Saturday 1 August Sunday 8 November 2009.