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Fred Williams in the You Yangs

BY Miranda Brown Publicity | 17-Jul-2017
Geelong Gallery is thrilled to present Fred Williams in the You Yangs, the largest major in-focus exhibition of a single subject in Williams’ oeuvre, taking place from 19 August to 5 November 2017. One of Australia’s most important painters, Williams irreversibly changed the way we consider the Australian landscape.
The spectacular You Yangs range lies just over 20 km north of Geelong, and is a sacred site of the Wadawurrung (also Wathaurong) people, whose traditional clan lands encompass the You Yang and Geelong. The name You Yang comes from Aboriginal words Wurdi Youang or Ude Youang, which may have number of meanings from ‘big mountain in the middle of a plain’, ‘big or large hill’, or ‘bald’. Williams first spotted the range in 1957 from the deck of the ship on which he was sailing home to Melbourne from London. He commenced working in the You Yangs in 1962, and the geography provided him with various vantage points to focus on the distinctive rocky outcrops of the place, and the vast expanses of country that opened before him. The exhibition presents the groundbreaking moment that won him wide acclaim as his feeling for the landscape distilled from representation to remarkable painterly abstraction – what we now consider Williams’ indelible interpretation of the Australian landscape, instantly recognisable for their spots, dabs and dashes – underscored by his studied observations of and deep engagement with the geology and geography of the You Yangs.

Curator and Geelong Gallery Director Jason Smith, “Fred Williams in the You Yangs focuses on the turning point in Williams’ vision of the Australian landscape, which went on to define his ‘classic’ interpretation of the Australian landscape. Exclusive to Geelong Gallery, this major exhibition reveals Williams’ enduring fascination with the You Yangs, and surveys in marvellous depth the artist’s working method.”

With loans from the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, other state galleries and major private collections, this exhibition brings together all major works from Williams’ first You Yangs series of 1963 to 1964, and several from the second and later series of paintings made between the mid-1960s and 1978.