OPENING night of “Abstraction-creation JW Power in Europe 1921-1938”, at the National Library, was a chance to celebrate and acknowledge this significant Australian artist.
Power (1881-1943) spent most of his artistic life in Europe and it is this extraordinary exhibition that brings together the library’s collection of his almost too perfect sketchbooks, designs and art books with the paintings from the University of Sydney collection of this avant-garde artist.
Sydney born into a wealthy family, he became a doctor and went to England to further his studies, which probably made his surgeon father and architect grandfather very happy, but Power had a passion for art realised in later life.
He served in the Royal Army Medical Corps and his meticulous drawing and architecturally influenced abstract painting makes me believe that, as a surgeon, his stitching would have been perfect.
But it’s the sketchbooks that offer an insight into his travels. From Paris to Bruges, Avignon to Africa and in Sydney in his youth, his constant sketching in an eclectic mix of books is a treasure trove of Power’s talent. It would seem he never made a mistake.