A fugue at sunrise

A fugue at sunrise
Rhonda Dredge

A small gallery in Station St, Carlton, has a low-key approach to the showing of art with a friendly crowd gathering monthly on a Saturday afternoon.

Four Eight Four Presents is run by artists, for artists, and the talk at the last opening was about impasto and the layering of paint.

Jacob Baglin has a job in a paint factory. Before work, he’s in his studio and he knows his product.

“I paint every day,” he said. “One to three hours. I don’t consider it to be impasto which is applied thickly. I thin the paint down and apply it wet on wet.”

Eventually the underlayers dry and the paint builds up to a thick finish with the image appearing to be gouged into the work.

This is deceptive, according to Baglin; really a result of working four colours so they don’t get muddy.

In a painting of the Northcote library, the stairs appear to be layered over time in terracotta and cream, creating a romantic view of an everyday location.

Baglin makes a fresh sketch each day before working in the studio, a departure from traditional landscape methods.

“He keeps doing the same image until he gets to the spirit of the landscape,” Bill Hay, who runs the gallery with partner Cathy Drummond, said.

Baglin has a great feel for linework but puts off the moment of pleasure until he has built up the layers.

“I get up at 5.30 [am] before work. I love to make work,” Baglin said. “Every day it’s a new session.”

He said he could always go back to a sketch but basically, he is looking for an idea.

“I love ideas and try them out in a session. I go back to the site. It keeps the work fresh.”

In From the church scaffolding the brushwork is quite geometric and linear whereas there is a more decorative feel in the smaller representations of Northcote library.

Dip at Northcote Plaza Early Morning is more spatial and scenes from the Mornington Peninsula perfectly complement line with worked-over colour.

It all came down to how a painter treated the surface, Baglin said. Although it looks like layering, “everything is going on at the same time”.

The result is a thoughtful exhibition without gimmicks or marketing hooks.

The play of light on the texture of paint is pleasing and strangely serious in its impact, like a fugue being played at sunrise.

Four Eight Four Presents opened in 2019 and the gallery has added depth to the local art scene.

Twenty-Three, Jacob Baglin, Four Eight Four, until May 6. •

Like us on Facebook