Robert Dickerson’s quirky and seemingly naive style is undoubtedly one of the most recognisable in Australian art.
Yet his skill and figurative technique should never be underestimated. All of his pieces have a magnetic and emotive presence, and have intrigued and delighted observers since he came to prominence in the 1950s.
The late artist’s current exhibition, running at Mosman Park’s Gallows Gallery, is called From Paris to Perth, and has already attracted numerous red stickers from collectors and fans.
The showing was launched by Dickerson collector John Palermo who showered praise on the artist for his unique style and evocative subject matter.
The works in the Gallows show span various scenes and portraits from France to Australia.
Dickerson was a self-taught artist and did not attend art school. Ironically, this may have assisted his development as an artist. He draw what he saw and soon developed his inimitable style.
His works are generally angular and high contrast chiaroscuro, executed in a range of mediums including paint, pastels, charcoals and other graphic media.
The blank planes of pensive, expressive faces he paints offer themselves for interpretation, similar to theatre masks.
He said the inspiration for his creations came from everyday life and he drew on the themes of loneliness, vulnerability and isolation. Lone characters with whimsical, often averted eyes feature heavily.
The figures are often set in open spaces – lovers are lost in their own world, solitary figures brood, small groups interact, lonely figures walk empty streets.
Dickerson once said he was surprised by what people read into his works. “People project themselves into them. You can interpret a painting how you want.”
His break as a professional artist came in 1954 when the National Gallery of Victoria purchased his work Man Asleep On The Steps.
In 1959 he joined Charles Blackman, David Boyd, John Brack, Bernard Smith, Arthur Boyd and Clifton Pugh to form the Antipodeans— a group of figurative artists making a statement opposing abstractionism in their day.
The Robert Dickerson exhibition From Paris to Perth will be on show at Gallows Gallery until Sunday, August 27.
53 Glyde Street, Mosman Park
Phone +61 (08) 9286 4730