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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia born 1939

Bill and Ted's excellent adventure

2010 Place made: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: paintings, oil and enamel on canvas
Dimensions: 182.8 h x 244.3 w cm Framed 1833 h x 2443 w x 40 d mm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2011
Accession No: NGA 2011.3
Image rights: © Gareth Sansom. Licensed by Viscopy

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Gareth Sansom first came to prominence in the 1960s as one of Melbourne’s most provocative artists. He is now one of Australia’s foremost senior painters. Buoyed throughout his long career by a passion for experimentation, art history, literature, cinema and popular culture and for breaking the rules of art making, he has developed an intuitive and very individual practice. Sansom’s works open up an imaginative space that mirrors his own sense of daring and adventure.

Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure 2010 is a large-scale, vividly coloured escapade in enamel and oil paint. It travels rapidly between containment and explosive energy, with unexpected intersections of abstraction and figuration. Its title is a reference to the outrageous late 1980s comic science fiction film of the same name. The cult film impacted a generation and follows the story of two goofy American high school students who are given a time machine to help them to pass their final history project. They cause havoc along the way, dragging historic figures into the twentieth century.

As Sansom noted in an artist statement in 2010, the work received this title after its completion, as he reflected on the composition and his approach to painting, in which ‘… a blank canvas becomes an adventure teaming with leads both figurative and abstract and historical …’ The two central silhouettes, Sansom suggested, could be interpreted as the heads of Bill and Ted facing each other, ‘baffled by the fact they have woken up in his time travel … flirting with danger and menace in a Sansom painting’.

Miriam Kelly Assistant Curator, Australian Painting and Sculpture

in artonview, issue 71, Spring 2012