James Gleeson (22 November 1915 - 20 October 2008)
In researching for an upcoming painting based on the Arthurian legend of Tristan and Isolde, I was reminded of this by the great Australian Surrealist, James Gleeson, painted in 1947. The title is fantastic, Sea-Wreck Involving the Heads of Tristan and Isolde, and indicative of some of his other titles. You will find his work in every major gallery in Australia and by the time he passed away in 2008, aged 93 and still painting, he left behind a legacy that will continue to influence artists for generations to come.
His work contrasts the tones of human flesh with surrealist landscapes containing jewels and gold, held together by textures akin to crustacea and things with eyes and things from the deep, and most have a somewhat 'Lovecraftian' feel. Then in the same image he challenged the contemporary audience of his day by the introduction of a male nude figure, something you never really saw in Australian art of the time, especially painted with a clarity of line very similar to Salvador Dali, one of Gleeson's contemporaries.
The richness of Gleeson's colour is stunning, to me he is George Quaintance meets Salvador Dali meets Max Ernst. I plan to post more of his work in the near future.