We can breathe in the perfect stillness of these works and grapple with the incredible sense that we are seeing forever, a single second.
Stephanie Tabram’s 2021 exhibition The Good Year once again establishes her as one of Australia’s most collectable painters. For The Good Year, Tabram gifts us a selection of exquisite landscape paintings and still-life compositions that are fragile and complex as only Tabram’s works are.
The simplest of subjects can be the most darkly evocative, such as in Weightless: a collection of delicate flowers, rendered luminous against a velvety dark ground; a work that seems to speak directly to the still-life painting of the Dutch Golden Age. The reference, however, is short-lived as Tabram does not gilt her still-lives in colonial opulence. Though her paintings are undeniably rich they don’t speak loudly of material wealth. The subjects of Weightless, posing together as in a solemn tableau, are humble in their ornateness, there is joy in their coloured frills and folds but there is a dismantling in their spot-lit darkness. Far from a celebratory painting of conquest and lavishness, Weightless takes our gravity; it is the falling of night, the floating feeling that comes with the warming Spring. The complexity of this fragile portrait is furthered heightened by a new suite of landscape works—including the work from which the show takes its title—in which Tabram once again captures in the most spectacular light, farmed, worked, drought-affected, stolen, bought, sold and undeniably beautiful country. These paintings set loose what is so well contained in Weightless; solemnity and awe unravel wildly under Tabram’s heaving skies and we are invited to reflect. We can breathe in the perfect stillness of these works and grapple with the incredible sense that we are seeing forever, a single second.
Tabram has held more than 15 solo exhibitions in both Tasmania and Victoria. She has been selected to exhibit in numerous group exhibitions throughout Australia, including in recent years, the Glover Prize on seven occasions (People Choice Winner 2009), the City of Albany Art Prize (Highly Commended 2010), and the Eutick Memorial Still Life Award (Highly Commended 2011). Her work is held in many national and international private collections including the Parliament House Collection, Canberra and Artbank.