Sidney Nolan

“We live on a thin crust over a bubbling mass of molten lava and the fuel of hell. What’s marvellous is that, in spite of everything, we’re alive. Do you understand? To make up for the suffering of the living, there’s the joy of life.”
Sidney Nolan 1967

This morning I went to the Queensland Art Gallery to view the Sidney Nolan exhibition. The exhibition is the first major Nolan retrospective since the artist’s death in London in 1992.

Sidney Nolan was born in 1917 and grey up in St Kilda, Melbourne. By the time he left Australia in 1953 at the age of 36 to permanently life in England he was already celebrated as this country’s most exciting contemporary painter.

He was very well known for his Ned Kelly series with ‘the black shape of Ned Kelly cutting violently into the landscapes of great delicacy’.

In July 1947 Nolan left Melbourne for Queensland. He was intrigued by a lady Eliza Fraser who was shipwrecked on Fraser Island in 1936 after whom it was renamed. Nolan spent time on the island which resulted in an exhibition of Fraser Island paintings at the Moreton Galleries in Brisbane in February 1948.

In 1957 after migrating to Britain Nolan began a Mrs Fraser series (almost 20 years after he first explored it) suggesting that the episode had a strong impact on his work and was instrumental in his development as an artist.

Convict and Mrs Fraser,1957 Print & Canvas.
During this period Nolan experimented with the effects of layering. He worked in a dark key, using wiped back paint to allow white grounds to gleam through. Towards the later stages of his career the artist made large scale spray painted abstractions.

[Information via QAG.]

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