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Australian art Abstraction: Spirit and Place

In the post-war period between the 1950s and 1970s a number of Australian artists emerged with strong abstract investigations and an interest in spirituality and the Australian landscape.  Godfrey Miller, Tony Tuckson, John Olsen and Ian Fairweather explored colour and line, semi-abstracted forms and multiple layers of mark making. Their works reflect a range of rich and varied influences, some of which included European Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, Indigenous Australian art and Chinese brush painting.   

Reclusive by nature, Ian Fairweather was strongly inspired by Buddhist philosophies and much of his formative years as an artist were spent travelling in Asia. Fairweather developed a characteristic style with a layered painted surface, searching calligraphic line and immensely subtle tonal range enlivened by touches of brighter colour. Tony Tuckson combined his strong interest in mark making with a distinctive sensitivity to the underlying spirituality of Indigenous art and culture. John Olsen was interested in the idea of interdependence with the natural world, ideas of chance and the significance of place. His paintings presented a fresh, instinctive and imaginative understanding of place in its own right, rather than as a setting in which human stories are played out. Godfrey Miller held a fascination with esoteric spiritualist theories and painted with geometric precision. Miller created mosaic-like images that appear to pulsate and suggest the idea that everything in the universe coexists or interconnects.

During the 1960s Australian sculptors including Lenton Parr, Vincas Jomantas Teisutis Zikaras, Julius Kane, Norma Redpath, Inge King formed the group Centre Five, exhibiting together and working to foster public appreciation of contemporary Australian sculpture.