Albert Tuckerand the Mystery of H.D.
In 1944 Albert Tucker made a chance discovery of two intriguing paintings in a bicycle shop in Melbourne. Attracted by their naive artistry he set about trying to establish who painted them—they were signed simply ‘H. D.’
After being told that the paintings had belonged to Professor Alfred Henry Tipper, Tucker traced Tipper’s last place of residence, where he found a further three paintings in the showman’s old cart in the back yard. Although his attempts to learn more about the artist were unsuccessful, he convinced John Reed to publish an article on H. D. and images in Angry Penguinsmagazine. Tucker and his modernist peers admired the fresh, untutored approach of outsider artists, taking their cue from Picasso’s discovery and promotion of naïve painter Henri Rousseau nearly forty years earlier. He wrote, ‘These paintings bear the unmistakeable mark of the natural artist … the man who accepts his own vision of the world with a simple unquestioning faith and paints it because he wants to, the best of all reasons’.
In 1945 the Contemporary Art Society hung four of H. D.’s works in its annual exhibition, leading to the revelation by Herald art critic Clive Turnbull that the artist was in fact H. Dearing, made clear by a signed sixth work that had come to light. It is now known that H. Dearing was an amateur artist who painted country life around regional Victoria during the 1920s and 1930s.
This exhibition brings together four of the paintings that Tucker found in 1944, with 26 hitherto unexhibited works by H. Dearing recently acquired by Heide Museum of Modern Art.