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Charles Blackman’s Women

Media Release: October 26, 2011 in Arts |

by Charles Blackman
mixed media on canvas at ARTHOUSE GALLERY

self portrait charles blackman

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One of Australia’s greatest living figurative artists, Charles Blackman aged 83, will be exhibiting a series of recent mixed media on canvas works titled Women at ARTHOUSE GALLERY from Saturday 12 November to 10 December, 2011

Girls and women, wives and mistresses, have played a crucial role in Blackman’s life, and the female in her various forms re-appears in his paintings time after time.

Of these most powerful invocations, the image of women is perhaps the strongest, such that he has painted woman in a fashion rarely ventured by other painters, writes Nadine Amadio in a book on Blackman. His paintings of women reach the emotions, the dreams and the inner world of women . . .

That is not so surprising when you learn he was born in Sydney in 1928, the only boy in a family with three girls. As his father walked out when he was four, he was the boisterous son in a family of excitable women and their influence seems to have pervaded his life and imagination.

school girl in uniform

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There is something deeply personal, romantic and mysterious in his works — even when they reside in the dream state or aesthetic fancy. His images all have an immense appeal and strength, and seem to resonate with subconscious impressions.

Blackman’s figurative power is to make a single image — sometimes sparse, sometimes austere — strong in power and suggestion. His controlled use of colour is masterful.

Writing in 1964, art historian Bernard Smith described Blackman’s main imagery as Women bemused by memories, dreaming, seeking comfort or simply lost in at twilight loneliness. His subjects are always familiar but all subjectively rich and deeply characterised.

In 2010 ARTHOUSE GALLERY showed a limited collection of original ink drawings and bronze sculptures by Charles Blackman, Silhoutte, which coincided with his 82nd birthday.

82 year old Blackman’s recent drawings still bear hallmarks of a sophisticated artist, John Mcdonald, Sydney Morning Herald, 2010.

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In a career spanning more than 60 years, Blackman has gained a local and international reputation as a mainstay in post-War Australian art. He was a member of the Antipodeans group, and a contemporary of Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Albert Tucker amongst others.

Blackman has won many prizes including the Rowney Prize for drawing (1959), the Archibald Prize (1966), and the Helena Rubinstein Scholarship (1960). He was awarded an OBE in 1997 for services to Australian art. In 2006, his painting Alice’s Journey fetched $1.02 million at Sotheby’s auction — a (then) record price for a living Australian painter.

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