David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

31 January 2017

Leonard French (1928-2017)

The temperatures of TAR 
When you're hot, you're hot!
When you're not, you're not!
Vale Leonard French 

In her obituary tribute in yesterday's THE AGE (here),
Leonard French's daughter Lisa sums up :

"He was the luckiest of men. He had achieved everything he ever wanted. His cultural legacy is enormous; he leaves behind a large body of work of international standing. Art inspired him all of his life.
His achievements were greater than he could have imagined and he died happy, satisfied, and much loved – none of us could want more."

TAR and the temperatures of others : 
if there's a lesson t|here, it was not for him, it's for us.

Your correspondent had some early brief contact with him and his work and has remained aware of him, continued to think about him and his work, and about the fickleness of the Theatre of the Actors of Regard. 

In this, we note also the online comments by the artist Gareth Sansom, added to the obituary by Ashleigh Wilson in The Australian :

His Legend coffee shop mural based on Sinbad the Sailor had an enormous influence on me - after  seeing it in 1958, and the Melbourne University swimming pool mural, I raced home and started using my father's Dulux house paint on Masonite..... and my first exhibition featured some of those early experiments with paint....he was gruff and confrontational and talked like a Harold Pinter script - but always exciting, and an art star before Whiteley....

Lisa French again :

According to Grishin in his book on the artist, in 1968 the newspapers were running headlines such as "The year of Leonard French" and by 1970 he "was at the peak of his popular acclaim and possibly the most public of any Australian artist of his day".
In the latter part of the 1970s he moved to rural Heathcote, withdrawing from the art scene, until a few years ago when he moved back to Brunswick where he was born. While his place in the limelight faded and many assumed him to be dead, he continued his prolific output for another 40 years. He was a much better painter than he has been given credit for (something I have no doubt history will eventually rectify).
The zeitgeist rolls on...

Melbourne Cool : the Legend Café, 1956, with painted panels by Leonard French and interior design by Clement Meadmore.

Leonard French, Iconoclast, 1957 :

His best known work, the stained glass ceiling of the Great Hall 
at the National Gallery of Victoria :

He continued to paint. Hannah Francis in today's AGE :

On Tuesday the family displayed a photograph of his last "epic" work, Chaos: a three-panel painting completed in 2004 that features a skeleton walking on a tightrope above a chaotic scene. It has never been exhibited.
"It captures this idea of the cyclical nature of time," says daughter Sarah French. "I have always interpreted the skeleton as a symbolic substitute for dad as the artist, who mocks the darkness below. However his own position is highly precarious – he must carefully maintain his balance lest he should fall and become swept up in the destruction."
Major galleries from Bendigo to Queensland have reportedly resurrected French's works from their store rooms and put them proudly on display after news of his death.
A spokesperson for the National Gallery of Victoria says the gallery has no current plans for a Leonard French retrospective.

Below, Leonard French, Journey of the Sun, 1980
collection Bendigo Art Gallery

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