Charles Blackman

Survey and Retrospective Exhibition - Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture

November 24 - November 30 2018

The Charles Blackman survey exhibition at the Anthea Polson Art celebrates the ninetieth year of one of Australia's greatest cultural icons. Charles passed away shortly after his birthday in August this year.  A vital force in every sense, he kept working right up until his final days, bringing forth quite illuminated and spiritual images. 

As a child, when he was once ill with tonsillitis, Charles' mother gave him some coloured crayons and that was it.  A life changer.  He immediately understood the force of the image, enabling him to become who he was. 'You can't stop people from being who they are' was one of his favourite sayings.  Charles had found the tool for it, because he instinctively had an extraordinary insight into the complex language of the emotions.  Indeed, a seemingly endless well of images surged up from then on through his pens and brushes throughout his entire life.  It is the underlying denominator in all his artworks, whether it be a massive canvas layered in sheer colours or the simplicity of an ink line drawing. 'You can't hide behind a line', was another of his favourite one-liners.

Charles had a life time connection with Queensland, starting from his early romance with his first wife Barbara Patterson.  He set up a studio below her family home in Indooroopilly, where he painted figures in urban landscapes, portraits and some of the Alice in Wonderland paintings.  He worked up on Tambourine Mountain whilst visiting Judith Wright and Jack McKinnery.  His love of this area led to many sojourns on the Gold Coast, Noosa, Stradbroke and Bribie Island, where he would come to work intensively to meet exhibition deadlines.  The painting Charles in White is from this earliest period, whilst Harbour Scene is from his time living in Melbourne oscillating between the Boyd and Heidi scenes, when he would go to paint in Williamstown with John Perceval.

The exhibition embraces the different decades of Charles' oeuvre giving us the opportunity to take his hand and step through his life work.  His closeness to the introspective poets in the London years in the sixties we can contemplate in Through a Glass Darkly, to the joyfulness of childhood in Children Playing, intimate domestic scenes from the seventies in the ink drawings or White Carnations through to the large pastels that were done at his tropical studio at Buderim, where he lived with his second wife Genevieve de Couvreur La Cheval au Ciel and Girl with Fan

The last major pieces he was working on just before he passed away were the editions of powder coloured cut out sculptures.  Originally designed in the 1960's, these were cut in bronze and enlivened by the rich palette of Blackman colours. Some have been increased to a larger than life scale and are available for commissions.  He also collaborated on creating the Cat prints, which originate from the illustrated verse for the Mark Twain book A cat-tale.  Some of his earliest etchings have been editioned especially for this celebration Painter of the White Cats Garden, Alice's Chair and By the Light of the Moon have never previously been printed.

Creative dexterity shines through this varied selection of Charles' works and give us an insight into his working mind, how it ran fluidly and lucidly between the complex and the compelling, through a simple gesture or moment, all could be expressed.  He was a true master of the image.

Charles' daughters Christabel and Bertie Blackman are now the managers of the Charles Blackman Foundation. They have been collaborating with Anthea Polson Art over the last six months to curate this exhibition, bringing together their unique vision of his work to present as an acknowledgement and celebration of his ninety years.  It is a wonderful time to join forces to honour and revere an extraordinary artist.

» Back to previous page