Gareth Sansom: Transformer

NGV Gareth Sansom, Sweeney Agonistes 2005 AARA pioneering figure of the Australian avant-garde for more than 60 years, the National Gallery of Victoria? will trace the career of one of Australia’s most provocative artists in Gareth Sansom: Transformer – currently on display at NGV Australia until January 2018.

“The National Gallery of Victoria has enjoyed a long association with Gareth Sansom, acquiring its first work of his in 1965,” said Tony Ellwood, Director NGV. “He is a thought-provoking artist who is constantly challenging himself to surprise his audience. This ambitious exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, is the most extensive ever undertaken by a major gallery and will surprise even those familiar with Sansom’s ground-breaking artistic practice.”

Renowned for his luridly colourful and densely-layered paintings, collages and watercolours, the Melbourne-born artist drew influence from the likes of Francis Bacon and the British pop art movement. Sansom’s works merge disparate visual references, imagery and his own mark-making, exploring the themes of popular culture, Australian vernacular, religion, sex and gender.

This is the largest survey of the artist’s work to date, with more than 130 works spanning his entire career. Suites of works on paper and photography complement more than 50 paintings, including many vital works from the past 15 years, and a number that have never been exhibited before.

“Having been painting since I was 16, this exhibition is incredibly exciting and a wonderful opportunity to review and reflect upon my career to date,” said Sansom. “The exhibition includes 53 years of my work and there are some pieces in the exhibition which haven’t been exhibited for more than 30 years.”

“My confidence is high and I am looking forward to seeing the finished exhibition and examining the relationships between some of my older and newer works.”

Sexually-charged, satirical and philosophical, Sansom’s daring canvases explore ideas of physical, psychological and material transformation, often beginning as one thing but swiftly morphing into another, as referential layers reveal themselves. Sansom is known to frequently situate self-portraits and photographs in his collages to provoke and challenge the audience’s interpretation of the artwork.

“I am constantly seeking to surprise myself through my works in the hope that the audience will also be surprised, said Sansom. “I am optimistic that this exhibition will provide people with different perspectives and within the context of the exhibition, new insights into my methods and motivations.”

Born in Melbourne in 1939, Gareth Sansom studied art at RMIT between 1959 and 1964. Sansom held positions as Head of Painting, then Dean of the School of Art, at the Victorian College of the Arts between 1977 and 1991 before retiring to concentrate solely on his art practice.

Gareth Sansom: Transformer
NGV Australia at Federation Square, Melbourne
Exhibition continues to 28 January 2018
Free admission

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Image: Gareth Sansom, Sweeney Agonistes 2005. oil and enamel paint and collage of type C photograph on canvas (a-c) 213.0 x 549.0 cm (overall) Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane. The James C Sourris, AM, Collection. Gift of James C Sourris, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2012. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. © Gareth Sansom/Administered by Viscopy, 2017. Photo: QAGOMA