Pentimenti | Adriane Strampp

Pentimenti | Adriane Strampp

September 3, 2021 - October 9, 2021

The ghost of dormant memories are often elusive, existing among layers of soft matter, quietly and compliantly waiting to be recalled. Drifting through consciousness as softly as a breeze, sometimes resting in places where they can be caught, at other times remaining just beyond reach.

I like to think of Adriane Strampp’s work in this way. Like nebulous memories of place and experience, her works are not pleading or beseeching, but quietly lingering until called upon by an inquisitive eye.

Strampp’s images are so delicately and finely layered onto linen, that if the light falls at a certain angle a glimpse of something tangible can appear, then leave without a trace. At other times roads, rivers, distant lights, smoke and other signs of life come into view through painted swathes of canvas that cast shadow or emanate light. These tricks with materials and brush are what make her work so compelling. In them exists an otherness between truth and fiction. Are these places real or conjured from the imagination?

The lack of specificity is no surprise given that Strampp was born in the USA, raised in the UK and now lives in Australia. Though she has lived longer here than in any other country, England beckons as her heartland. She describes the sensory triggers that evoke this sense of home; light, colours and sounds; triggers that can’t be conjured at will, but rather, emerge when arriving in a place. And thus, her new body of work recalls her recent experiences of the moors and rugged coastline of Southern England where centuries of history are entombed in layers of landscape, like pentimento just visible under the surface.

The Italian term, pentimento, first came to use in the Renaissance to describe the trace left by a sketch or drawing under layers of oil paint. In conservation labs, pentimenti, its plural, are frequently the key to uncovering the truth of an old-master painting, revealing its history and evolution. These marks, exposed by x-ray or scan, can confirm the hand of a maker and debunk even the most convincing of forgeries.

Strampp’s paintings are a series of pentimenti. Each begins with fine washes, built upon with many layers of translucent paint, wax and glaze- a technique which allows light to travel through the surface and offer glimpses to what lies underneath. Stories are created or obscured as more layers are applied, with erasure playing a major part, until an image reaches its zenith. What begins with an experience for Strampp, ends with a feeling embedded with memories and thoughts.

Leaving us with a sense of mystery and magic to behold.


Adriane Strampp is a Melbourne-based romantic and figurative painter. Her sumptuous and evocative paintings tend towards the ethereal, being not about subject as much as the sentiment that it conveys.​

In her studio, fragments of reference material are rearranged, merged and edited to create a new ambiguous reality and a sense of discord; a response painted from the artist’s personal experiences and broader response to the current global climate.

Pentimenti is Adriane’s third solo exhibition at Gallerysmith.