Russel Drysdale 1

Cultural Insight to Australia 17: Art (i)

Australia is well known for animals and beaches, but we have artists, too, as does all countries. Given the range of scenery available, perhaps we have more artists than other countries – although none of them have really achieved worldwide fame.

The Australian ‘outback’ has always been one source of inspiration. My country struggled hard and long to conquer this difficult landscape, so it is usually celebrated in painting, as a magnificent and inspiring place, but one artist saw it very differently. Here are two of his paintings, from 1940s.

Russel Drysdale 1

Russel Drysdale 3








Notice here how big the tree-trunk and cliffs are, dwarfing the people below. Notice the eerie shadows. One senses the silent and threatening power of the landscape, and that the human beings somehow do not really belong there. This second picture shows the same themes: the change in the normal sizes of objects, and other surrealist elements. The tree-trunk here has a monstrous form, with a gaping mouth as if in a silent scream.

In the next ‘Cultural Insight’, I’ll explain about the painter who produced these works.