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Surrealist Painter James Gleeson, 88, Awarded Medal
James Gleeson stands in front of a self portrait after being awarded with the prestigious Painters and Sculptors Association Medal at the opening of the first retrospective exhibition of his work at the National Gallery of Victoria. WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA.-Australia's foremost surrealist painter James Gleeson, aged 88 and international reknown in this area of the arts, holds the medal aloft with the prestigious Painters and Sculptors Association Medal by former recipient John Olsen at the opening of the first retrospective exhibition of his work at the National Gallery of Victoria at Federation Square in Melbourne, 28 October 2004. Previous recipients of the medal include other famous painters as Arthur Boyd, Charles Blackman, Lloyd Rees, John Coburn and Margaret Olley amongst others.

James Gleeson, who lives in Sydney, is one of Australia's most important artists. For more than six decades, his work has explored the realms and possibilities of the Surrealist creed and sought to show that there exists, beyond the obvious and everyday, an alternative reality experienced through dreams, hallucinations, and differing mental states. Rather than focusing on purely private fantasies, the most significant contributions made by Surrealist artists, including James Gleeson, are the visionary and profound statements that comment on the human condition. Although James Gleeson has been the subject of two monographs and several smaller, focused exhibitions, a full-scale retrospective of his work has never been seen and indeed, is long overdue.

James Gleeson: Beyond the Screen of Sight includes 120 paintings and works on paper from public, corporate and private collections throughout Australia. Many of these works have not been seen since their initial exhibition and several have been recently repatriated to Australia.

Curators: Lou Klepac, art historian and publisher, and Geoffrey Smith, Curator of Australian Art, National Gallery of Victoria. The exhibition is touring to the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra from 18 March to 13 June, 2005.

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