Whiteley: Other Places – Visual Diary of an Artist’s Travels

Brett Whiteley Paris

Brett Whiteley, (Street scene, Paris) 1960, pen and brown ink, wash on ivory wove paper, 37.8 x 27.8 cm, Art Gallery of New South Wales Bequest of Beryl Whiteley 2012 © Wendy Whiteley

The Brett Whiteley Studio, an integral aspect of the Art Gallery of N.S.W, displays a range of the works by the multi award winning Australian artist Brett Whiteley (1939–1992) who was one of the leading lights of Australia’s arts movements for three decades,

The studio is the former workplace and home of the Australian artist, who worked across the mediums of painting, sculpture and graphic work.

A new exhibition showing now at the Studio Whiteley: Other Places presents a visual diary of his many travels during his lifetime to New York, Fiji, Tokyo, London and the French territory of Tangiers. It will be on display until May 8, 2016.

Many of the works have never been on public display, some until now in the private collection of his late mother Beryl Whiteley.

The artist’s relentless search for a sense of place will be revealed alongside a collection of Paris drawings depicting both Whiteley’s early responses to, and his last experiences of, the city.

Coordinator of the Brett Whiteley Studio, Alec George said.

“Whiteley travelled extensively and produced a beautiful range of works with great virtuosity, energy, humour, sensitivity and an intense desire to document his unique vision and experiences,” George added.

Brett Whiteley Portrait 2 NGA

Brett Whiteley Portrait 2 1975 by Greg Weight, gelatin silver photograph (45.2 x 30.8 cm), courtesy National Portrait Gallery of Australia

Brett Whiteley was several times awarded the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prizes by the Art Gallery of NSW.

His talent was all consuming, which meant his journey would always be a challenging one.

Sent to boarding school in the country as a child, while Brett Whiteley didn’t thrive away from home, his love of the scenery around Bathurst in New South Wales did start at this time.

Studying at the renowned Julian Ashton Art School on the shores of the spectacular Sydney Harbour in his late teens, he continued to explore ideas of landscape while setting off on an exploration of the ‘human condition in art’.

Winning a travelling scholarship from the Italian government, Whiteley headed for Naples arriving in February 1960.

From there he went on to Rome, Florence and London, where it was a significant time, the winds of change being heralded by British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.

1960 was the advent of contemporary ‘celebrity status’, which began as Academy Award winning actress Joanne Woodward was given the first star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, starting an all new artistic tradition.

Brett Whiteley met his wife Wendy Julius during his teens and they had met up again in Paris and were married in the Chelsea Registry Office in London, travelling back to Florence together.

As always he recorded all his new experiences in charcoal, photography and paint.

Brett Whiteley The Dealer AGNSW

Brett Whiteley, The dealer, oil, gouache, watercolour, ink, pencil, paper collage, and glass, eye on paper, 56 x 75.4 cm, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Purchased 1968, © Wendy Whiteley

Whiteley easily identified with his distinctive curly hair, moved to New York with his family in 1967.

In the dynamic environment of New York the broader issues, which America was facing at the time came into focus with violent demonstrations against the Vietnam War, civil rights protests and the tragic assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

The works on display in Whiteley: Other Places include the drawing from the artist’s late Paris series Regard de Cote 1989, which Whiteley created after visiting the city again some thirty years later and New York 1, which graced the foyer in the Chelsea Hotel for decades and has only recently returned to Australia.

Brett Whiteley The Green Mountain

Brett Whiteley, The green mountain (Fiji) 1969, oil, collage on cardboard, 137 x 122 cm, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Gift of Patrick White 1979, © Wendy Whiteley

Notes from a sketchbook, New York have been in a private collection for the last 40 years and New York 3 on display at the Studio for the first time was created during Whiteley’s travels to Fiji, London, Tangier, Bali and Japan

“Whiteley’s early works display his composition, gesture and style, and this emerges with great confidence and draughtsmanship in his late drawings where his expressive qualities are intrinsically part of his repertoire,” Alec George said.

Brett Whiteley’s is a sad personal story, however what remains luminous and everlasting is his art.

Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016

Whiteley: Other Places
Brett Whiteley Studio
On Show – May 8, 2016

Supported by Principal sponsor, J.P. Morgan, the Brett Whiteley Studio is located in the inner city suburb of Surry Hills in Sydney. It is open to the public Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays with interested groups booked in for Wednesdays and Thursdays.

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