Erica Tandori 'Before the Time of Fire'

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In the first year of art school, contemporary artist and academic Erica Tandori was diagnosed with macular degeneration. The doctor told her to “leave art school, give up, it’s no use”. The moment proved pivotal, but not straightforwardly so: despite the doctor’s advice and her limited vision, Tandori refused to abandon art. She built a practice intent on articulating the phenomenology of macular degeneration, of seeing the world through eyes deemed legally blind.  

Tandori’s work is a counter to, in her words, the prevailing notion that “the soul of the artist is in the retina”. Her position is startlingly immersive. Captured in plein air, ‘In the Time Before Fire’ pictures bushland. The work shimmers like oil on water, at once dreamy and vivid. It is a vision of the bush delineated from smell, hearing and touch – silken grass bending under foot, a canopy of light beaming overhead, whispering leaves. 

The best way to understand Tandori’s practice is by observing the difference between sight and vision. Where the former deals in optical data, the latter lies in imagination, desire and memory; in her work however, Tandori suggests this distinction is not as resounding as one may suspect. The title of ‘In The Time Before Fire’ has a double resonance: it refers to its subject, bushland that appears untouched by civilisation. Philosophically, fire can also be understood as illumination, sight. Tandori envisions the bush without sight and in turn, encourages the viewer to enter a more instinctual, intuitive relationship with nature. 

The recipient of a PhD, Masters and several awards, Tandori works alongside ophthalmologists and academics to redress the divides between those with and without vision impairment. She considers how art can be experienced by the visually impaired, and how the world as seen by the blind can translate to the seeing. In the intoxicating realism of ‘Before the Time of Fire’, she reminds us that no matter the status of your retina, our relationship to the surrounding world is far more personal, emotional and imagined than we realise. Vision more often than not, overwhelms sight. 

This work will enliven collections of contemporary art and landscapes.


Erica TANDORI (1965 - )
'Before the Time of Fire' 2018
oil on canvas
Image Size: 91 x 121 cm
Dimensions: 95 x 125 x 7 cm
Signed: signed verso

Condition:As New

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Since 2001, Angela Tandori Fine Art has been connecting people across the world with art they love. With a focus on Modern and Contemporary collectable Australian art, we offer a platform where first-time, as well as established collectors can discover art with confidence. Always available online - we are professional so you can be passionate.

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Our director, Angela Tandori is a second generation art dealer who begun working in the industry in 1998. Armed with vast experience in auctioning, valuing, exhibiting and consulting in Australian art, Angela has honed her vision for the modern collector. She holds a certificate in Auction & Valuation practice and is a member of the Art Consulting Association of Australia and an associate member of the Auctioneers and Valuers Association of Australia. Plus, she’s an avid art collector herself!