GLEESON, James (1915 - 2008)
Also known as ‘Surreal Study of an Artist at Work’. Oil on board, 200 x 145 mm, signed lower right. Painted 1958. Inscribed verso ‘To Dear Honoria and Edouardo from Giovanni, 1958′.
A rare and important example of Gleeson’s surrealism, gifted to Edward M. Smith and his wife Honor with an affectionate and playful inscription in 1958. Smith was Gleeson’s art teacher at East Sydney Technical College, where he studied from 1934 – 36. An influential teacher, Edward Smith (or ‘Blacksmith’, as he was known by his students) also taught Douglas Dundas and Justin O’Brien, who both reflect on their teacher with fond memories in their interviews given to James Gleeson at the National Gallery of Australia in 1978. The gift is a meaningful one, from Gleeson to his teacher during the period of his first formal training in painting. The subject is an artist at his easel, attempting to capture on canvas the vastness of the world, both real and surreal.
‘Renowned as Australia’s foremost surrealist painter and poet, James Gleeson’s oeuvre explores the human condition beyond visible reality and the limitations of the senses through powerful enigmas of fleshy biomorphic, mechanical and illusionistic landscape forms. In addition to his contributions to surrealism, throughout his career Gleeson made important contributions to the Australian art world as a dedicated writer, critic and affiliate of a number of art institutions.’
– Art Gallery of New South Wales https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/artists/gleeson-james/
Original frame, Acme Framing Co., Sydney, signed and inscribed in pen by James Gleeson verso ‘To Dear Honoria and Edouardo from Giovanni, 1958’.
Gift of the artist to Edward and Honor Smith.
The Estate of the Late E.M. Smith, Fine Australian & International Art Sotheby’s, Sydney, 27 Aug 2001, titled ‘Surreal Study of an Artist at Work’, illustrated, lot 76 ($10,200 IBP)
Savill Galleries, Sydney and Melbourne, exhibited in Australia’s most wanted, March 2005, item 53, titled ‘Surreal Study of an Artist at Work’, illustrated ($14,500)
Private collection, Sydney
Bonhams & Goodman, Australian & International Art, Melbourne, 24/11/2009, Lot No. 34 ($10,800 IBP)
The Estate of David Andrew Pratten, Sydney
Shapiro Auctioneers, Australian & International Art, Sydney, 8 September 2020, lot 119