Thirty-five paintings created by enigmatic artist Ian Fairweather on Queensland's Bribie Island during the final 21 years of his life are being featured in an intimate exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery
from 3 November 2012 to 3 March 2013.
Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Acting Director Suhanya Raffel said Scotland-born Fairweather (1891-1974) was arguably the most important artist working in Australia in the mid-twentieth century, and 'Ian Fairweather: Late Works 1953-1974' would be the first exhibition to focus on this final crucial stage of his career.
Ms Raffel said the Queensland Art Gallery had the largest single collection of Fairweather's paintings.
'Many of these are featured in the exhibition, including eight from a group of recent gifts from benefactor Win Schubert that have further boosted the Gallery's holdings of this important artist's work,' she said.
'Also included are key loans from university and regional collections, and a number of works from private collections, rarely seen in public.'
Following an early life of restless travel, which included his infamous 1952 raft trip from Darwin to East Timor, Fairweather settled in a hut on Queensland's Bribie Island at the age of 61.
Ms Raffel said the radiant paintings he executed there are considered the best of his career, reflecting a unique take on his surroundings on Bribie.
'The Gallery is pleased to present this latest exhibition as part of the Xstrata Coal Queensland Artists' Gallery program. This partnership enables us to tell stories of Queensland art, and Fairweather's late work is an essential chapter,' Ms Raffel said.
'Ian Fairweather: Late Works 1953-1974', curated by QAGOMA Curator of Australian Art to 1975 Angela Goddard, follows major retrospectives of the artist's paintings at QAG in 1994 and 1965.
'Drawing on his immediate surroundings, as well as memories of his international travels, Fairweather painted complex, layered works during this period as he explored the many themes that fascinated him throughout his long career,' Ms Goddard said.
'The exhibition includes a strong representation of his brief excursion into complete abstraction in the late 1950s, and shows his enduring interest in the language and culture of China, where he had previously lived and worked.'
Ms Goddard said highlights would include the QAG Collection work Kite flying 1958, and two of his series of works on religious themes, Gethsemane 1958, from the collection of Philip Bacon, AM, and Epiphany 1962 from the QAG Collection.
Among the gifts from Win Schubert featured in the exhibition is Chi-tien drunk - carried home 1964, from the series Fairweather painted to accompany his translation of the Chinese folk tale A Drunken Buddha, published by University of Queensland Press in 1965. It is joined by another work from the series, Chi-tien stands on his head 1964, from the UQ Collection.