14
Nov
12

Day 319: Male Nude in Psychoscape, by James Gleeson

Male Nude in Psychoscape (Variation on the Titan Theme VII), by James Gleeson

Day 319: Male Nude in Psychoscape (Variation on the Titan Theme VII), by James Gleeson

James Gleeson’s series of miniature paintings, mostly not exceeding 6 inches, are believed to have been created during the 1960s and 1970s, when Gleeson worked full-time as an advisor for the future collection of the National Gallery of Australia and as an art critic for a number of leading Australian periodicals. The weekends were the only time Gleeson had left for painting, and his goal was to create artworks that would take him no longer than a single weekend to complete.

Works produced during this time include paintings, works on paper, and mixed media collages. They all feature a prominent male nude or two, at the height of their physical perfection. The paintings are frequently referred to as ‘Frankies’, based on the belief that the male nudes represent Gleeson’s life-long partner, Frank O’Keefe. We shall not dispute these claims, but the comparison between the paintings and collages of the period show that Gleeson also richly drew upon the inspiration provided by fitness magazines of the era that featured the ubiquitous ‘American beefcake.’

The nudes are invariably placed against imagined, phantasmagorical backgrounds, usually referred to as psychoscapes. Their surrealism provides an important link between Gleeson’s early works of the 1940s and 1950s, and his much later grandiloquent large-scale visions of the 1980s and 1990s.

The subject matter of these works featuring prominent male nudes appears confronting to some. This is a pity, as it stops so many from admiring Gleeson’s meticulous painting technique and attention to detail, as well dexterity in managing complex pigments and colour schemes that make surfaces of these miniature paintings sparkle like precious, multi-coloured, richly enamelled jewels.

Variation on the Titan Theme VII James Gleeson (1915-2008) features in Deutscher and Hackett’s forthcoming auction of Important Australian and International Art (lot 61, est AUD $4,000-6,000), taking place in Melbourne on November 28.

http://www.deutscherandhackett.com/

http://www.deutscherandhackett.com/auctions/catalogues/123456905

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

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2 Responses to “Day 319: Male Nude in Psychoscape, by James Gleeson”


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Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

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