DETAIL : Roy DE MAISTRE 1894�1968 'Forest landscape' [Gum trees] c1920  oil on cardboard NGA 1971.44
Arthur BOYD | The hunter I

BOYD, Arthur
Australia 1920 – Australia 1999
England, Australia, Italy from 1959
The hunter I (1944)
oil on cotton gauze on cardboard
63.6 (h) x 75.8 (w) cm
Framed 63.5 (h) x 75.6 (w) x 3.8 (d) cm
Signed l.r., oil "A Boyd", not dated
The Arthur Boyd gift 1975
NGA 1975.3.15
Reproduced with permission of Bundanon Trust

Arthur Boyd’s paintings during the Second World War reflect the personal turmoil he experienced at the time and his deep opposition to violence. Boyd was conscripted into the army in May 1941 and discharged in March 1944. His paintings from the war years include expressionistic images of human dislocation and suffering; images of crippled, grotesque figures in the streets of St Kilda and South Melbourne. In 1944 he completed a series of dark, dramatic paintings of figures in the Australian bush. The landscapes in these paintings, including The hunter I, were inspired by places in Victoria that Boyd had visited while on leave from the army, including the upper reaches of the Yarra, Launching Place, Warburton and Woods Point.1

In The hunter I Boyd has used private symbols to create an image of personal despair and anxiety. He portrayed the hunter as an exposed and vulnerable figure, naked with closed eyes. As if trapped or lost in the dense, straggly bush the hunter appears to be both part of the landscape and alien within it. Approached by the horned ram (a symbol of lust and corruption in Boyd’s work) the hunter attempts to flee,
his extended arm a seemingly futile gesture.

1 Barry Pearce, Arthur Boyd retrospective, Sydney: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1993, p.16.