Cover image of the review
Murray Fredericks, Blaze #9, Lake Pamamaroo, Menindee, 2022. Digital pigment print on cotton rag, edition of 5 + 2 A/P, 107 x 270 cm. Courtesy of the artist and ARC ONE Gallery


16 Dec 2023
ARC ONE Gallery 28 Nov - 3 Feb 2024

It seems we have made an enemy … of the elements
— Kate Rigby, “Imagining Catastrophe”

In Blaze, Murray Fredericks confronts us with a series of burning trees. Set against rich, graded hues of blue and black, the flaming branches are all centred in the frame. The photographs are composed with the even horizon visible from a standing-eye perspective, with a sharp contrast made between the drama of the conflagration in the foreground and the placid, crystalline colours in the background.

So primed, the images evoke a fiery theophany. The appearance of god(s) in the form of an element—fire—presents a contradictory ephemerality and scarring, a destructive force reflecting the uncertain nature of the deity. And yet, unlike Fredericks’s previous landscape series, including Array (2018–19) and Vanity (2017) (on show at the Museum of Australian Photography), the horizon features more prominently, a solid black line or sharp edge separating earth or water and sky. The landscape is given detail and texture that is absent from the more abstract examinations of light in the previous series. Fredericks seems to be making a firmer, more grounded statement of intention.

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