Artists That Have Conveyed An Australian Identity: Sidney Nolan, Brett Whiteley & Fred Williams

1035 words - 4 pages

Essay- How Artists Have Conveyed An Australian IdentityThe image of Australian art has changed constantly since its early beginnings and has made contributions to the nations cultural identity, which has been substantially enhanced over the last two hundred years by Australian artists. The Australian identity has been examined and portrayed by many Australian artists with reference to the unique landscape and environment as well as the people that occupy it. This cultural identity has been reflected through the artists work's by displaying certain abundant characteristics that successfully describe an Australian identity. Sidney Nolan, Brett Whiteley and Fred Williams are a few Australian artists that manage to successfully delineate the true aspect that represents the Australian identity.Sidney Nolan (1917-1992), a distinguished Australian painter, was best known for capturing an Australian identity through his series of paintings of the bush ranger Ned Kelly. He presented the episodes in Kelly's life in a series of flat paintings set in colours of blue and gold, greatly enlivened by the reds and blues of police uniforms. Never before had an Australian legend been presented in such a remarkable way. Sidney Nolan once mentioned, "I find that a desire to paint the landscape involves a wish to hear more of the stories which take place within the landscape. Stories which may or may not only be heard in country towns and read in the journals of explorers, but which also persist in the memory" ( The Art Of Australia). He did just that in his series of works illustrating the life of the nineteenth-century Australian bush ranger, Ned Kelly. It is the stuff of legend, as the series itself has become legendary. The paintings are full of wry irony, human tragedy and violence. In landscapes of great beauty the human drama is played out with direct, apparently untutored naivety. Nolan's combination of narrative and symbol was exceptional. Nolan achieved an extraordinary range of mood and visual effects in his Kelly paintings of the 1940's. Death of Constable Scanlon portrays the brutality of murder. But is somehow lightened by the lyricism of the loosely scribbled, yellow sunlit setting, its spatial clarity established by the horizontal shadows cast by vertical fence posts, tree trunks and stumps. Nolan's imaging of Kelly was part of his greater plan to turn the Australian landscape into a mythology, so that it would resonate in the cultural imagery. Furthermore, 'Death of Constable Scanlon' has been a commentary to emphasize the relationship between the land and it's European inhabitants. The figures depicted in Nolan's painting were not blended into the background; they were exaggerated shown by, Kelly's predominant square black helmet. This child like perspective serves to isolate the figures from their surroundings. Although Kelly occupies a most complex position in Australian imagination, he has been transformed into a folk hero that has become an...

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