Lot 393 View Catalog
BRETT WHITELEY (1939–1992)
Oil on board
With artist’s studio stamp upper right
Signed, titled and dated 1971 on reverse
134 x 122cm
Sotheby’s Australia, Important Australian Art, Melbourne, 11/04/2006, Lot No. 50; Private Collection, Sydney; Deutscher~Menzies, Australian and International Art, Sydney, 10/12/2008, Lot No. 28; Bay East Auctions, Bay East Art, Sydney, 21/03/2010, Lot No. 169; Private Collection, Sydney.
© Wendy Whiteley
Whiteley spent the decade
after 1969 producing works which covered every aspect
of his personality from
Buddhism inspired works, like Change, to the almost schizophrenic works like Alchemy. In 1970 after exhibiting bold and exuberant works of flora, fauna and landscapes, Whiteley said:
“At this moment, you reach
for the furthest opposite: To
be perpetually shifting and
not hold-able, to be mercurial and Zen.” 1
So he began the portraits. Portraits of friends, self portraits and historical figures. This culminated in a show at the Bonython Gallery in Sydney in 1972 dedicated to the People’s Republic of China. He painted Saint Francis 2 also in 1971, a large ink on rice paper work mounted on silk scroll on board. This was his interpretation of a master calligrapher’s work with almost Disney inspired birds flying around Saint Francis’ head. Whereas in Change Whiteley depicts himself calmly seated, almost floating, with his head bowed as he sounds a gong. The fine red line emanating from his head circling round and disappearing into the resonance of the gong. The viewers eye is then lead back to the figure with the ever increasing black dots creating a very Zen like mood. Whiteley himself referred to many of his paintings over the years as being “Chinese” 3 in style as Asia had always held a fascination for him.
“The quest is the transmutation of Self” 4
|Estimate||AU$100,000 – AU$150,000|
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