Arthur Boyd coming to the National Gallery

The Prodigal Son

GOOD and evil, love and compassion, loss and reclamation. These are the ideas that have been wrestled with throughout The National Gallery of Australia’s exhibition Arthur Boyd: Agony & Ecstasy, that opened today.

One of Australia’s most accomplished, innovative and famous artists, the broad collection of Arthur Boyd’s works shows him to be “one of the most stylistically diverse and accomplished artists nationally and internationally,” says Deborah Hart, exhibition Curator.

The exhibition, on display in Canberra only, is the first major exhibition of Arthur Boyd’s artwork in more than twenty years, and includes paintings, tapestries, prints, drawings, sculptures and ceramics.

The collection of more than 180 pieces, undertaken between 1937 and 1980, “reveals Boyd’s capacities to work across a wide range of media in ways that are at times highly considered and at others highly inventive and intuitively spontaneous.”

As well as many of his important series such as the Nebuchadnezzar paintings, tapestries on the theme of the Lady and the Unicorn, costume designs for the ballet Elektra, and the Caged Painter series, there are many pieces never before exhibited to the public. One such item is a mural entitled The Prodigal Son that was painted for Arthur’s uncle, well-known novelist Martin Boyd, in 1948 in the dining room of a house known as The Grange, built by the artist’s great-grandparents in 1866. When the house was demolished to make way for a quarry, the mural was salvaged in several large fragments.

Ron Radford AM, Director at the National Gallery of Australia, concludes that this exhibition in many ways captures “the uncensored Boyd” and the raw power of his works is “not for the faint-hearted.”

With an emphasis on the way he engages with human experience, the exhibition is directed towards revealing Arthur Boyd as an “intense, passionate visionary capable of plumbing the depths and vicissitudes of human emotions.”

Though many Australians may be familiar with Boyd’s art from the 1940s and 50s, the exhibition gives a rare glimpse into the strength of his work from the 1960s and 70s.

The exhibition will be on display at The National Gallery of Australia until November 9th 2014.

Tickets are available at Ticketek or at the National Gallery of Australia front desk. Adults $15 Concession $12 NGA Member $10.

[Pictured: Arthur Boyd
The prodigal son 1948–49, from the Harkaway mural
casein tempera, powder colour on plaster on mortar
230.0 x 227.0 cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Gift of Arthur Boyd 1969
Reproduced with the permission of Bundanon Trust]

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