11 July 2012

Featured Artist :: John Brack

Collins St, 5p.m. 1955

The Bar 1955

Two Typists 1954

mannequins 1953

Subdivion 1954

Suburban Life 1

Suburban Life 2

from Ballroom Series 60s

‘For me I think that there must always be some sort of comment, but it must never be the sort of comment that could be put into words.’ John Bracks

"What I paint most is what interests me most, that is, people; the Human Condition, in particular the effect on appearance of environment and behaviour … A large part of the motive … is the desire to understand, and if possible, to illuminate …"  John Bracks


More than any other artist of his generation, John Brack was a painter of modern Australian life. Unlike his contemporaries, Brack painted neither myth nor history and when he focused on the landscape, it was the sprawl of suburbia that caught his attention rather than the ubiquitous Australian bush.

His was an art of ideas that aimed to speak directly to the viewer. It was grounded in the everyday but communicated through a distinctive and highly personal language incorporating complex visual analogy, irony, humour, a sophisticated use of metaphor, and always underpinned by a deep knowledge of the history of art.

This interest in the human condition is self-evident in Brack’s art of the 1950s and 60s which depicts the people and places that surrounded him; images of his wife and children, art-world friends, people, alone and in crowds, observed in the suburbs and the city, at work and at play.

From the study of individuals and their behaviour at the local level, which had characterised Brack’s work of the 1950s and 60s, the later paintings described the complexities of human nature and relationships and their role in the universal and seemingly inescapable experiences of political struggle, religious difference and war. These paintings are powerful moral tales in pictorial form.


Im not sure when but when I was young I visited the Art Gallery in Melbourne and fell in love with a painting. I remember it being different from the other works it was a streetscape holding a sea of faces. There was nothing pretty about the imagery, the faces of tobacco stained complexions and haughty expressions a dramatic contrast to the richly coloured landscapes that surrounded it.

The painting was Collins St, 5p.m. 1955 by the Artist John Brack.

Thirty years later I am living the painting. I live in Melbourne. Winter in Melbourne is just as Brack depicted cold grey and there is a certain afternoon light unique to Melbourne that occurs when the sunshines behind the thick grey clouds causing a tobacco coloured hue to colour the sky and all that exists underneath it.

John Brack was a realist of the human condition that surrounded him when post war  humans became the machine of industry, toiling fodder driving prosperity. How glad am I that Brack documented these intriguing snapshots of ordinary life during the 50s and 60s in modern Melbourne Australia.

This painting and other works of John Brack describe Melbournes character with imagery. Its intriguing with dark notes that keeps a certain electric energy running through its streets and the veins of the people who choose to live here.

Helen Bordeaux


Copyright: This post has been created as an informative post to create awareness of  Australian Artist John Brack. It is intended for educative and general interest purposes only. Out of respect to the Artist and Galleries PLEASE DO NOT lift the images or the words from this post. No permission is given to do so. If you want to research the Artist further then I ask that you follow the links provided.

<< 0 >>


susan christensen said...

Helen, these are fascinating glimpses of a particular time that also seems to be timeless. The color sense of this painter is something quite unique. Thanks for opening my eyes to yet another aspect of Australian art. -sus

renilde said...

great observator, beautiful compositions, a special talent indeed, thanks for introducing me to John Brack x

mano said...

very interesting artist! thank you for sharing! mano

objects of whimsy said...

his work was amazing this period lasted for 2 decades after the WWII and then for the last 3 decades he painted everydat objects such as pencils and toys in formation some compositions resembling marching armies.
Have a good day

Helen :)

♥ w o o l f ♥ said...

let me see and express how this discovery has captured me.
the first picture, incidentally very dear to you, reminds me of european art from a certain period. how delightful and surprising this is australian!
i am in awe of the colour code here, the subjects, the philosophy. mr brack really paints short stories...
yep. another love for me.

i LOVE how you present artists at intervals and make me discover gems i would otherwise maybe never encounter. thxs, helen.