The James Gleeson oral history collection

James Gleeson interviews Australia's major artists

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image: Paul Partos Yellow screen with yellow 1968 Sculpture, oil based automotive lacquer on nylon and wood 274.0 h x 107.5 w x 31.0 d cm Purchased 1972

Yellow screen with yellow 1968
Sculpture, oil based automotive lacquer on nylon and wood
274.0 h x 107.5 w x 31.0 d cm
Purchased 1972
more detail

Paul Partos

3 November 1979 [unknown location]

James Gleeson: No, well, just glancing at them it’s apparent. One that isn’t in our collection—I don’t know how we have the photograph of it—is called Unspecified length but it is clearly an important work in your catalogue of works.

Paul Partos: Yes, well that actually helps to understand the progression, or the change perhaps rather than the progression.

James Gleeson: What, between untitled painting within a painting towards the new?

Paul Partos: Well, yes, towards the new, because it has that recurrent theme, which I wasn’t aware of until I went through it and realised that I’m using the same sort of motive there which is perhaps a symbol, a sign that for me signifies something. But from these works, actually these originated from these screens where I did 10 of these screens.

James Gleeson: Ah yes, yes.

Paul Partos: Once they had been done I looked at them and I thought, well, oddly enough they seem somewhat theatrical and I didn’t want that aspect creeping into the works. So I chose the ones that were the most successful, and the ones that were the ones that had the centrefold.

James Gleeson: Yes, yes. The piece in (inaudible).

Paul Partos: Yes, moving. One, like this one here, was quite—the rest of them were pastiches of these and somehow didn’t work. There was five of them so I cut them up and I used the nylon organza spray into strips. It was almost like a kind of sampling of the original work where the work was non existent. But I still somehow wanted to contain, or have a sampling of a work which no longer existed. Plus I thought, well, what the hell. I don’t want to waste all that money, so I may as well make another work out of it, to be honest.

James Gleeson: You mentioned the fact that these were nylon organza sprayed on.

Paul Partos: Well, that’s what you call them, but it depends. I mean, every time I went to Myers I asked for my nylon organza. They said, ‘Sure, yes’. That’s what it’s called, nylon organza.

James Gleeson: I see. It’s a pretty tough, I suppose, material.

Paul Partos: It is very tough. It’s like silk screen but silk apparently wasn’t as durable as nylon, so nylon being tougher I bought the nylon.

James Gleeson: Then you sprayed it. What, with a duco?

Paul Partos: Well, on some of the works, some of the early works, I sprayed it with auto duco, which from material or the permanency of the thing was the wrong thing to do.

James Gleeson: I see.

Paul Partos: Because it just rots the nylon.

James Gleeson: Does it?.

Paul Partos: But I don’t think the Gallery has any of those. I mean, the ones that were successful were the ones that were sprayed with acrylic.

James Gleeson: I see.

Paul Partos: The problem here is that they are very fragile.

James Gleeson: Yes.

Paul Partos: My suggestion is, if ever it’s exhibited, it ought to have a screen, something around it to stop the—

James Gleeson: Around it to stop the people touching it.

Paul Partos: Because on two occasions now I’ve had to repair the screen in Geelong. On one occasion a possum tore it to pieces, got into or something. On another occasion kids just had cigarettes and they just put holes in it.

James Gleeson: Good lord.

Paul Partos: Oh, well, I can’t blame them. It’s sort of probably nice to see those little—but I kept telling them to put a screen or something around it and they didn’t.

James Gleeson: So that’s a good tip for us when we show them, to put them somewhere that they can’t be touched.

Paul Partos: Well, or where an attendant is or someone because otherwise—

James Gleeson: They can be easily damaged.

Paul Partos: Very easily, yes.

James Gleeson: Paul, when you made these two Yellow screen with yellow and Lap garden did you make them first and then spray them, or spray the material first and then assemble them afterwards.

Paul Partos: No. Well, these had to be stretched first.

James Gleeson: Stretched first.

Paul Partos: Stretched first on either side and then sprayed. Then the middle section as well was sprayed. Then the two sections were joined together. So they had to be stretched before they were sprayed.

James Gleeson: Yes, good.

Paul Partos: So these were as a consequence of the screens.


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