Born 1920, died 1999
Few artists are synonymous with an entire era of Australian painting. Arthur Boyd produced some of the most iconic post-war images of Australia and Australian society. Originally an ‘Angry Penguin’, he developed a singular style derived from the European tradition of the ‘blaue reiter’ and the German expressionists. He also possessed an antipodean eye for Pieter Brueghel, in which, a lyrical adaptation of country towns and epics such as ‘Babel’ are reinterpreted as Australian Fable. Capturing an essence of a peculiar antipodean irreverence, in which the solidity of town and building is eschewed for corrugated iron and dusty streetscapes. There’s a comic quality as a sort of Dimboola-esque exuberance. Boyd found his metier in capturing the underpinnings of whatever passes for Australian culture.
Assured of his language, and confident of his powers, Boyd then flung himself into a prodigious output which presented the outback, biblical tales, mythology and the Australian landscape with bravura skill and intense painterly flourishes. Boyd’s etchings, being lesser known, are inspired by the northern European tradition, and executed with a lightness and delicacy of exquisite detail and a masterful capacity to touch the very essence of the emotional structure of things.
Whilst Boyd’s landscapes are heroic, his smaller works demonstrate a sympathetic understanding of humanity and the desire amongst all of us, to transcend banality and capture the eternality of longing. His family have made a great contribution to Australian art and continue to present a unique and highly empathetic view of that complex structure we refer to as “Humanity”.
David McCubbin, 2018