Tony TUCKSON, Red on blue and white Enlarge 1 /1


Egypt 1921 – Australia 1973

  • Australia from 1946
  • Europe, United States of America 1967-68

Red on blue and white 1970-73 Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, synthetic polymer paint on two composition boards

Dimensions: 213.5 h x 244.7 w cm
Acknowledgement: Gift of James Erskine 2011. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
Accession No: NGA 2011.832
Image rights: © Tony Tuckson. Licensed by Viscopy

Tony Tuckson is Australia’s most significant exponent of Abstract Expressionism. The dynamic quality of his mark-making explores the very nature of painting itself. He had an in-depth knowledge of abstract painting including European and American art of the twentieth century and Australian Aboriginal art.

Red on blue and white is a striking example of the powerful works Tuckson produced in the years before his untimely death in 1973 at 52 years of age. The large gestures of red layered over blue and white convey a sense of urgency, of spontaneity. Each mark, each layer is a trace of the artist moving across the painting’s surface. His works reveal the painting process, so much so that the act of painting itself in a way becomes a subject of his work. The bodily physicality of the work is combined with the sense of an inner life—with a compressed energy palpably expressed.

Born in Ismalia, Egypt in 1921, Tuckson studied in England and was sent to Australia in 1942 with the Royal Airforce Spitfire Squadron. While on leave in Sydney he met Margaret Bisset and they married the following year. Their son Michael was born in 1945. After being posted back to England, Tuckson succeeded in returning to Australia in 1946. In 1950 he joined the Art Gallery of New South Wales as an attendant. By 1957 he was appointed deputy director and remained in that position until 1973. As deputy director he was instrumental in building their collection of Aboriginal art.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014