Creative Power: The Art of George Baldessin
Dates & times
Fri 16 August — Sun 22 September 2013
Image: George Baldessin
Personage with striped dress II
1968, etching and aqua-tint, 57.5 x 50.5 cm.
Despite his tragically short life (he was 39 years old when he died in a car accident in 1978), George Baldessin made a significant impact on printmaking and sculpture in Australia in the 1960s and 70s. For this retrospective exhibition, Tess Edwards Baldessin, the artist’s widow, has made a selection of prints, drawings and sculpture from the rich legacy he left at the time of his death.
Baldessin’s artwork reshuffles motifs to make narratives set upon distorted stages or in windowless interiors. A pear becomes a woman. A hat is an emblem. The emblem reconfigures as the same woman. This playfulness extends to his experimental use of materials such as the fibreglass and silver foil which appear in his prints. An edgy feeling for composition amalgamates smoky surfaces and scratchy line-work into darkly memorable images.
“Baldessin’s work balanced sophisticated refinement with savage compositional distortions, nervous intensity and disturbing ambiguities to describe eternal aspects of the human condition,” says biographer Jenny Zimmer.
Baldessin’s work has been collected by all major Australian art galleries, as well as by MOMA in New York, and the British Museum in London. He represented Australia at the São Paolo Biennale in 1975. One of his most iconic pieces is Pears 1973, a landmark in Canberra in front of the National Gallery of Australia.