Betra Fraval has long been preoccupied with the landscape and the painterly implications of its translation from life to canvas. In her latest body of work, Fraval continues to trace this conceptual thread, oscillating between hard edge abstraction and soft, modernist reduction. Casting her eye to distinctive Australian landscapes of the Pilbara, Turapina (Ben Lomond) and Burrunggui, Kakadu. These contrasting painterly styles speak to states of desire – in particular, that thing about desire that propels us to consume and to “want more.”
Desire is a very human emotion as well as a very human action. When it comes to the landscape, we reduce and consume in myriad ways. The desire to capture the landscape in a painting, to decant its essence into something that can be taken away and experienced outside of its literal location. The landscape is also carved up for its mineral forms. There is a breathtaking vastness to this impulse – its scale is bigger than that of the landscape itself, our desire abstracts the landscape from a literal thing with finite resources, into something that is conceptually infinite and sublime. Perhaps this tendency to romanticise the scale and resources of the environment is because the natural world – mountains, oceans and ancient rock forms, outstrips our conception of the human past.
Fraval’s abstracted works speak to the changed state of the landscapes and the way human desire has sped up and abstracted the geologic mass of the landscape.
Betra Fraval graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2014. In 2019 she was a finalist in the R&M McGivern Prize and a finalist in the John Leslie Art Prize 2020. In 2019 she received two international residencies through the Helsinki International Artist Program, Finland and Res Artis Project residencies at Hotel Sainte Valiere, France. She has exhibited extensively both nationally and internationally, including a sell out debut at Sydney Contemporary in 2018. Her work is held in the Artbank collection and private collections across Australia, USA and Europe.