The James Gleeson oral history collection

James Gleeson interviews Australia's major artists

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John Peart

26 October 1979

James Gleeson: I see. Good. Now, Loco pink one '74, from the Abraxus Canberra. Did you have a show there?

John Peart: Yes, I had a show there in '74.

James Gleeson: That's on loan to Berlin at the moment. We do have a photograph of it. Now, that's again a different sort of–

John Peart: It goes up this way.

James Gleeson: I'll just make a note of the–

John Peart: I think I was emerging here from the more expressionistic use of paint.

James Gleeson: I see.

John Peart: Controlling it more. I was using a trowel, or a spatula. Also the relationship between the stained light absorbing canvas and then the thick light reflective texture.

James Gleeson: It's still acrylic?

John Peart: Yes.

James Gleeson: Seventy-four. That was a series you said; this was the first of the series?

John Peart: Well, when I say 'a series', the Loco pink, I think there were three or four Loco pink paintings. But they were part of a larger series of works that don't necessarily have that format but use the same combination of stain and texture and the avoidance of thrown paint and poured paint. So it's either brushed on–you can see sort of loose brushy marks under here–trowelled on, or sometimes a wash, a kind of glazed wash, that would sometimes even go over the textured paint. So it would be, you know, a wash over. The thick paint would be rejected by the thick acrylic and it would be accepted by the stained canvas, so sometimes you get traces of washes that went over the thick paint. But I think I became intrigued after this by the use of thin paint on top of thick. That's still fascinating me in the current work.

James Gleeson: John, Loco pink, does that mean mad pink, a really shocking pink?

John Peart: Yes. Yes, it did seem rather it was a kind of smouldering, smokey pink. I don't know. Pink is a strange colour. A lot of people seem surprised that one would want to use pink in paintings, or make an all pink painting. But pink has strange associations, I think. You know, associated usually with baby girls, I think. But I love pink. You know, to me it's just red with white in it.

James Gleeson: Yes, yes.

John Peart: You know, and there are so many different shades of pink. Some of my best paintings have been pink or brownish pink or dominantly pink. Hardly ever very bright shocking; I don't mean it was a bright lipstick pink or anything.

James Gleeson: No, no, no. But a strange off-pink sort of pink.

John Peart: Yes, I think that's all I meant by 'loco'.


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