All will agree that a work of art should possess balance in its design, should be a cosmos, the total of whose parts make a unity. Everyone knows that 5+2+3 equals 10. To the colourists Yellow + Violet + Blue in the right proportions similarly constitute a unity.
Roland Wakelin 19191
In 1919 Roland Wakelin and Roy de Maistre held a controversial and experimental exhibition Colour in art at Gayfield Shaw’s Art Salon in Sydney. Barn near Tuggerah is possibly one of eleven works included in that exhibition. Wakelin and de Maistre were influenced by the colours of Cézanne, Gauguin and van Gogh. They were also interested in Synchromism, an art theory developed by American artists Morgan Russell and Stanton Macdonald-Wright who believed that colour and tone could be arranged in the same way that a composer arranges notes and chords. De Maistre had developed his own colour-music scale where the spectrum of colours related to the notes of the major and minor musical scales. The colour-music paintings attempted to create a unique visual language based on these principles.
Wakelin visited Tuggerah (a town on the Central Coast north of Sydney) on painting trips where he worked directly from nature. Barn near Tuggerah is a carefully composed image of simplified shapes and lyrical colour. Elements within the landscape have been reduced to basic forms and planes and Wakelin has carefully worked the painted surface, applying paint in short thick strokes. Radiating bands of vibrant greens shape the hillside while the trees and sky are carefully defined by soft dabs of turquoise-blue and green. The overall effect suggests a contemplative encounter with the environment.
1 Roland Wakelin, Colour in art, Canberra: National Gallery of Australia Research Library, documentary files on Roland Wakelin, 1919, p. 2.