[Colour] brings the conscious realisation of the deepest underlying principles of nature … it constitutes the very song of life and is, as it were, the spiritual speech of every living thing.
Roy de Maistre 19191
In Forest landscape Roy de Maistre adapted the subject of a felled tree to create a painting concerned with modernist principles of form, rhythm, symmetry and colour. Tree trunks have been reduced to angular planes of colour and the composition is united by vivid greens that portray the forest floor and foliage. De Maistre has explored a range of colour tones, using subtle shifts in greens, reds and browns throughout the painting.
Forest landscapebelongs to a period when de Maistre was interested in the broken-colour approach of Cézanne and the relationship between colour and music. De Maistre had studied violin and viola at the Sydney Conservatorium, and art at the Royal Art Society of New South Wales and Julian Ashton Art School. Working with musician Adrian Verbrugghen he developed a colour-music scale where the spectrum of colours related to notes of the major and minor musical scales. The colour-music theory was further underscored by de Maistre’s interest in the psychological effects of colour and its relationship to the expression of emotional states.
Historically, the subject of the felled tree in the Australian bush has reflected artistic interests in rural industry, the natural grandeur of Australian forests and, in some instances, an awareness of conservation issues related to loss and destruction. The felled tree and rock formation dominate the foreground of Forest landscape. The vitality of colour suggests the cycles of nature and regeneration, and the striking flesh-colours of the wood imply sympathy towards the complex natural environment.
1 Roy de Maistre, in Colour in art, exhibition catalogue, The Art Salon, Penzance Chambers, 29 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, 1919.