The Art Gallery of Ballarat is proud to announce the acquisition of a significant painting by Australian artist John Brack (1920-1999), donated to the Gallery by the artist’s family. The painting, The Chase (1959) will be exhibited in the Gallery’s permanent collection, offering a rare opportunity for visitors to appreciate one of Australia’s most iconic artists.
The Chase is a classic Brack piece, featuring the artist’s own daughters running in a playful manner. This energetic and important painting is a familiar, everyday subject that simultaneously depicts the fun and simplicity of childhood games while alluding to the darker side of human nature in the ‘shadows of anxiety’ that are cast by the running girls.
The painting was shown in the watershed Antipodean exhibition in Melbourne in 1959, where Brack asserted the importance of the figure in art in defiance of advancing American abstract expressionism.
Born in Melbourne in 1920, John Brack was a trailblazing artist of the twentieth century, known for his striking depictions of modern Australia, particularly the urban experience. John Brack died in Melbourne on 11 February 1999. He was hugely influential on generations of Australian artists and his work is held in every major collection in Australia.
This donation showcases the strength of The Art Gallery of Ballarat’s collection and highlights the gallery’s ongoing success in attracting major donations demonstrating a commitment to preserving and celebrating important works of art.
“We are very grateful to the Brack family for this very exciting donation to our collection, which is already one of the country’s great collections of Australian art,” said Gallery Director, Louise Tegart.
“The Chase is one of Brack’s great paintings which would sit comfortably with the artist’s iconic works such as The Bar (1954), Collins St., 5 pm (1955) and The Car (1955) and is an exciting addition to our existing holding of works by Brack which includes the paintings The Sewing Machine (1955) and Hand Balance (1973) as well as works on paper.
“This painting, which featured in the very important 1959 Antipodean exhibition, joins our significant holding of works by the other Antipodeans artists, Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, David Boyd, John Perceval, Robert Dickerson and Clifton Pugh.”
The Chase is closely related to another work, Two Running Girls (1959), which was painted at the same time and depicts two figures rather than the three represented in The Chase. A study for the work is in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria.
The painting has been included in numerous survey shows, including the two retrospective exhibitions of Brack’s art mounted at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1987 and 2009. It was discussed and reproduced in the publications that accompanied the retrospectives, as well as being included in Ronald Millar’s 1971 monograph on the artist.
This important artwork is a must-see for any art enthusiast, and the Art Gallery of Ballarat is proud to offer visitors the opportunity to experience this iconic piece first-hand.
The Chase is now on display at the Arts Gallery of Ballarat. For more information, visit: www.artgalleryofballarat.com.au for details.
Image: John Brack, The Chase, (1959). Oil on composition board. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by the Brack family, 2022. Collection of the Art Gallery of Ballarat. © Helen Brack