My name is Jacqueline Balassa. I am a Sydney based painter of Contemporary Landscape working in oils, gouache and graphite pencil drawing. My primary focus is the Australian Landscape, most recently the intimacy of my native garden and road trips between Sydney, Brisbane and Orange. I occasionally work with other places when I am fortunate enough to travel.
I have a BFA, MArt and MFA, all in painting, from the College of Fine Art, UNSW. I also studied in Florence, Italy at the Accademia delle Belle Arti di Firenze and privately with Professor Christian Snyders.
I have exhibited in Sydney, Canberra, Orange Regional Gallery (Kedumba Drawing Award) and Hong Kong (Art Central). I am represented by Simon Chan at Art Artrium in Sydney.
I am the daughter of migrants who fled turmoil and persecution in Europe. They instilled in me a love of European visual art and taught me to love and respect the natural environment.
Since I was a child I have been fascinated by the calm beauty and otherworldly quality of Early Italian Renaissance painting (13th to 15th century) – artists such as Duccio and Giotto. To me these works are delicately balanced between the real world of observation and the inner world of the imagination. Marcia Hall1 writes “Medieval painting makes no real pretence of replicating the real world but .... in its irreality may seem to give us a glimpse of a higher reality.” It was the Early Italian Renaissance painters such as Giotto and later Veneziano, who began to be interested in bringing aspects of the real world into their work, eg. light, space and form. It is this balance of observation and otherworldliness that I seek in my work and my study of the painting traditions of this period informs my contemporary practice.
In 2018 I travelled to the renowned Yellow Mountain in China after exhibiting at Art Central in Hong Kong. While working on a series of paintings based on this area I began to study Traditional Chinese Mountain Painting, which dates back to the 5th century. I felt an immediate connection to this visual language.
Heilbrunn2 writes “Chinese depictions of nature are seldom mere representations of the external world. Rather, they are expressions of the mind and heart of the individual artist”.
In 2019 I began to develop a very personal visual language that melds close observation of nature with my own interpretations of these two venerable painting traditions.
Communicating my visual and emotional response to particular aspects of nature eg. mountains, coastal areas, waterfalls, gardens, a time of day or a season, in recognisable places, while also creating a sense of otherworldliness is my goal.
My practice begins with observational drawing and colour notes, From these references, filtered through my memory and imagination, I invent graphite pencil drawings, gouaches and oil paintings back in the studio. I use the elements of colour, shape, tone, pattern, space, form and light to reinterpret the landscape with its unique flora, forms and colours, and to express my experience.
- Colour and Meaning - Practice and Theory in Renaissance Painting. Marcia Hall. Cambridge University Press 1992 p29
- The Line of Art History - Landscape Painting in China, Heilbrunn. Department of Asian Art. Metropolitan Museum NY 2004
Here is my full CV.