Day 320: Reclining Angel, by John Perceval

John Perceval Reclining Angel

Day 320: Reclining Angel, by John Perceval

John Perceval’s Angels are among the most instantly recognisable works by the artist, and rare examples of recourse to sculpture and ceramics in the artist’s oeuvre. The series originated in the 1950s, when Perceval experimented with ceramics at the Boyd family pottery, and hence some of the early angels are slightly reminiscent of vaguely utilitarian teapots with squat bodies, spout- and handle-shaped limbs, and lid-like heads. Yet progressively, they have taken a life of their own as self-contained ceramic and bronze sculptures.

Perceval’s own children provided inspiration for poses and attitudes of the angels, and there are indeed a number of uncanny parallels between children’s appearance in the photographs and drawings of the period and flailing pudgy arms and chubby legs of his sculptured pieces. However, facial expressions of Perceval’s Angels are not necessarily or uniformly child-like. They are angels who have fallen from Heaven, and they stare at us with knowing, unsettling, and menacing grimaces.

John Perceval’s Reclining Angel (bronze, edition 3 of 6) features in Sotheby’s Australia auction of Important Australian Art (lot 42, est. AUD $15,000-$20,000) in Melbourne on November 20.


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

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Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

November 2012


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