03 May, 2009

John Brack in Melbourne

Posted by: admin In: Art News Blog

Two things that I have quickly noticed about the city of Melbourne is their love for AFL (Australian Football League) and their love for Melbourne artists. I passed thousands of supporters dressed in brown and yellow everything yesterday, so I’m glad I wasn’t wearing the colors of the opposing team. It’s not just guys that are fanatical about the sport, everyone seems to be. If I hang around Melbourne for much longer I might even go to a game to see what they’re all so excited about.

John Brack Collins St 5pmAfter reading a few reviews in local newspapers of the current John Brack exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, it makes me think that they love their artists as much as their athletes. I can’t remember the exact words of one glowing review in a major newspaper but it called it a perfect exhibition and urged anyone with an Australian bone in their body to rush down and experience this art utopia.

I wouldn’t dare tell this to a Melbournite, but I wasn’t that impressed with the John Brack exhibition. Although he does have a few iconic pictures that depict a particilular time and place in Australia like Collins St, 5p.m. from 1955 (pictured), The Car from 1955, and The Bar from 1954.

After the 1950s I started to lose concentration. It was like he was trying to be something that he wasn’t, trying to be new like a lot of art being produced in America around the same time. I became a little more interested in the 1980s when he was painting pencils, but I eventually returned to the 1950s rooms to leave the exhibition on a high note.

John Brack the Battle Pencils
The Battle – 1983 – John Brack uses pencils to depict French and British soldiers in the Battle of Waterloo

I was much more impressed by a room of Fred Williams paintings in the free section of the gallery. Here’s some work by Fred Williams online. Fred Williams is also from this area, so I probably wouldn’t be hung for admitting that I like him more.

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