Russell Drysdale: Defining the Modern Australian Landscape surveys the artist’s approach to landscape across painting, drawing and photography – the first exhibition to explore his outback work across these three media.
Taking a fresh look at this major artist, and based on original research, the exhibition shows how Drysdale highlighted what he saw as urgent issues facing Australia at mid-century: his works directly confronted problems in land management, the effects of drought, environmental degradation, Aboriginal dispossession, even the devastation of modern war.
The exhibition reveals the underpinning symbolism of Drysdale’s outback imagery. Those desert scenes were deceptive. We see how some pictures refer to the plight of Australian soldiers in the Second World War, and others to the aftermath of the Atomic cataclysm.
Also explored are Drysdale’s efforts to blend landscape painting with surrealism, while many pictures and photographs are connected to his journeys into the Australian interior – drawings and documentary materials from an excursion into a crippling drought are shown. The selection puts the artist’s photographs and preparatory drawings against finished canvases.
The selection of works shows the artist’s deep concern for Aboriginal peoples, and how he positioned Indigenous figures within his paintings to convey his distress at their dispossession.
It will also present a number of the artist’s works which have not previously been seen in public before and iconic paintings such as The Cricketers, 1948 which have not been exhibited regularly for many years.
Over 35 paintings from private collections and major public collections including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Carrick Hill Trust, National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Queensland Art Gallery and TarraWarra Museum of Art’s own collection will be shown alongside a selection of the artist’s drawings and almost 100 of the artist’s own photos of the Australian landscape and figures in the landscape.
This ground breaking exhibition reveals Russell Drysdale as a man seemingly ahead of his time, who not only shaped perceptions of the national landscape. Drysdale used visual art to pose questions about land and environment – disturbing questions that our society is only now confronting.
Russell Drysdale: Defining the Modern Australian Landscape
TarraWarra Museum of Art, 311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Healesville
Exhibition: 19 October 2013 – 9 February 2014
Entry fees apply
For more information, visit: www.twma.com.au for details.
Image: Russell Drysdale The cricketers 1948, oil on composition board, 76.2 x 101.5 cm. Private collection © Estate of Russell Drysdale