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Indepth Arts News:

"Russell Drysdale: Sunday evening, 1941"
2001-06-30 until 2001-09-23
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Sydney, , AU Australia

The tenth exhibition in the Australian Collection Focus series centres on Russell Drysdale’s powerful early painting Sunday evening, which occupies an important place in the Gallery’s collection of 20th century Australian art. This was the first of Drysdale’s works to be purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales (in 1942), and, indeed, was the first of his works to be purchased by any public art museum in Australia.

Painted in 1941, this work is of seminal importance in the development of Drysdale’s unique vision. As one of the artist’s earliest paintings with an inland theme, it broke radically with the established Heidelberg school vision of rural Australia as a sun-drenched pastoral arcadia – imagery which decades previously, had come to epitomise for Australians the essential characteristics of their land and people.

Instead, in a painting which revealed an emerging personal style, and signalled the future importance of the figure to his image of Australia, Drysdale focussed on an evocation of strange human survival amidst the isolation and hardship of the interior. Sunday evening, with other paintings of 1941 on similar themes, heralded Drysdale’s future role in shaping an alternative national identity based on the distinctiveness of Australian inland life.

This exhibition and accompanying publication will explore the context in which Sunday evening was produced, providing a background to Drysdale’s interest in inland subjects and to the range of influences on his approach.

The Australian Collection Focus series exhibitions are held in a space in the Gallery’s 20th Century Australia Courts specifically devoted to this special series of small, changing exhibitions. Each exhibition focuses on a comprehensive evaluation and the results of recent curatorial research.

The Australian Collection Focus series is generously sponsored by ABN AMRO Rothschild.

IMAGE:
Russell Drysdale
Sunday evening 1941
oil on asbestos cement sheet, 60 x 75.9cm
Purchased 1942


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