Elise Blumann painted Perth’s Swan River and the native melaleuca trees of the region many times. Escaping the Nazi regime that devastated much of Europe, German-born Blumann came to Perth with her husband and two children in 1938. Educated at the Berlin Academy of Arts and the Royal Art School Berlin, Blumann was familiar with the modern art of the German Expressionists, Matisse, Picasso, Kandinsky and Chagall. In Australia Blumann’s painting was unconventional, however her peers regarded her as a valued member of Perth’s artistic community.
In Storm on the Swan Blumann uses broad sweeping gestures – strong horizontal and diagonal brushwork – to capture the power of a storm. Wind and rain beat against the limbs of the trees which appear to almost float in space. This dynamic and sensitive composition displays Blumann’s modern approach to her art and her desire to capture the ‘essential spirit’ of nature.1 Areas of the painting’s surface are blank, while others are scratched with the end of her brush to indicate sharp, fast, rain. This is a vigorous, physical and quickly executed work, a powerful response to the speed in which a storm can approach and pass.
1 John Scott & Richard Woldendorp,Landscapes of Western Australia, Claremont, Western Australia: Aeolian Press, 1986, p. 17.