Australia’s art community has united in tribute to prize-winning artist Charles Blackman, who has died peacefully in Sydney surrounded by loved ones, aged 90.
Deborah Hart, NGA head of Australian Art, said the Sydney-born artist “brought a distinct vision to Australian art”.
“His sense of poetry and ability to capture the poignancy, emotion and richness of the everyday urban landscape remains unrivalled,” she said.
“His legacy will live on.’
The Art Gallery of NSW described Blackman as “one of the most celebrated Australian figurative artists of the 20th century”.
Blackman was best remembered for his haunting Schoolgirls paintings depicting girls and women lost in daydreams, which was inspired by his own horror over the murder of a young girl in Melbourne, and then for his Alice in Wonderland series, which conveyed abstract scenes from the popular children’s book.
In a blog post, the gallery made note of the “personal, literary and musical themes” that influenced Blackman’s work, while Sydney artist Marina Finlay, who modelled for Blackman for many years, described him as a “combination of the Mad Hatter and the rabbit”.
“These amazing pearls of wisdom would drop out of his mouth,” Finlay told News Corp on Monday.
“He would say something like, ‘you have got to wrap your pen around a dream’. Another of his sayings was, ‘don’t draw what you see, draw what you feel’.”
Perhaps the most moving tribute came from his son Auguste Blackman, who said father will leave “a wonderful legacy”.
“He painted our dreams. He painted the dreams of everyone,” he said.
“I’ve never met such a man who could channel emotion the way Charles did in the paint.”
Blackman didn’t just paint. He was also loved for his prints, drawing, sculpture and tapestry, through which he explored the female psyche and cats as principle themes, among others.
His works were widely exhibited in galleries around Australia and also at the Whitechapel and Tate galleries in London. He was awarded an OBE for his services to the arts in 1977.
Blackman spent much of his later life out of the public eye after he was diagnosed with the memory disorder Korsakoff’s syndrome.
He is survived by his six children.
* The Harvey Galleries in Sydney will next month open an exhibition dedicated to Charles Blackman. The Evening is the Morning will look at Blackman’s portrayal of the mysticism of cats through bronze maquettes and illustrations from Mark Twain’s A Cat’s Tale. Showing from September 22 to October 7. Details: harveygalleries南京夜网.au
Australian Associated Press