James Gleeson
beyond the screen of sight

18 March – 13 June 2005

'James Gleeson is Australia’s most gifted and consistent exponent of Surrealist art and theory...'
Ken Wach, Associate Professor, School of Creative Arts, University of Melbourne, Melbourne Australia.

The first retrospective exhibition of Australia’s foremost Surrealist painter will open at the National Gallery of Australia on 18 March 2005. James Gleeson: beyond the screen of sight brings together 80 major paintings and works on paper from public, corporate and private collections throughout Australia.

James Gleeson has explored the realms and possibilities of Surrealism for more than six decades, showing us an alternative reality experienced through dreams, hallucinations and differing mental states exists. Gleeson says 'surrealism is really about reaching into one’s inner imagination.'

Gleeson’s working life as a painter falls into two main periods, 1938–1957 when he evolved and developed his pictorial ideas inspired by Surrealism, and 1983 to the present day, when he embarked on the series of large imaginative landscapes which constitute his greatest and most original achievement. The only constraint on his later grand visions was for the works to exit through his studio door.

Co-curator Geoffrey Smith, Curator of Australian Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Australia, says, 'a sense of prophecy pervades many of these images; the illogical and disturbing landscape appears to look simultaneously to the past and the future – inferring a future, but perhaps also suggesting a punishment for the past.'

Gleeson remains one of the great epic painters and social commentators of his generation. Guest curator Lou Klepac says, 'Gleeson is not only a survivor, but he has continued to develop his extraordinary career as an artist and during the last two decades has produced his most original and dynamic works.'

'It is fitting that the exhibition is being shown at the National Gallery of Australia as Gleeson was instrumental in helping shape the Australian collection', says Roger Butler, Senior Curator, Australian Prints, Drawings and Illustrated Books, National Gallery of Australia.

A detailed and fully illustrated catalogue including essays which examine various aspects of Gleeson's career accompanies the exhibition and will be available in the NGA shop.

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For further information please contact
Todd Hayward Marketing and Communications by phone +61 2 6240 643 (desk) , +61 [0] 423 784 299 (mobile) or marketing@nga.gov.au