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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia born 1939

Bright eyes 1986 Materials & Technique: paintings, oil, enamel and alkyd resin on linen

Primary Insc: Signed l.r. 'g.s.', not dated.
Dimensions: 182.5 h x 213.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1986
Accession No: NGA 86.2291
Image rights: © Gareth Sansom. Licensed by Viscopy

The iconography within Bright eyes pretty much summed up what was going on in my art at that time – garish and extremely complicated background images, pinned down by some iconographic image. In this case it is a hatted figure with bright cat’s eyes – eyes with voodoo connotations. Or black magic. The painting is obviously about the juxtaposition of the large head with the interplay of tiny figures dancing and cavorting, as if in ecstatic ritualistic homage to the head. (The head was inscribed on top with alkyd paint much later.)

The strips of railroad track striking up from the bottom left corner are not only homage to my innocent boyhood love of playing with my Hornby Dublo train set, and to Duchamp’s use of connected plumbing as a stylistic device, but also to the early French abstract painting that I had seen in books when I was 16. Of course, those strips are pivotal to the painting’s final structure, in that I finally needed something to animate in some way the relationship between the large head and the buzzing ground.

Gareth Sansom 2002

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002