Albert Tucker
2 September 2017 25 February 2018
Albert & Barbara Tucker Gallery
Sue Cramer
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Albert Tucker began painting outback themes while living in Italy in the mid-1950s during an extended period abroad, his interest in Australian myth and by extension Australian identity sharpened by his distance from home. This exhibition brings together paintings portraying a cast of legendary characters set within a harsh and alienating Australian landscape. Among them are Ned and Dan Kelly, and the Wild Colonial Boy. Defying nationalist clichés Tucker depicts these bushrangers not as heroic figures, but as lurking centaurs waiting to pounce on their prey.

Albert Tucker, Wild Colonial Boy 4 1968, synthetic polymer paint on composition board, 91.3 x 122 cm, Heide Museum of Modern Art, On long-term loan from the Estate of Barbara Tucker, © Estate of Barbara Tucker, courtesy of Sotheby’s Australia

Often drawn to the darker aspects of human experience, Tucker has sometimes portrayed the ill-fated pioneers Burke and Wills and Ludwig Leichhardt, but his outback Explorers are also often anonymous figures, pitted against desert or rainforest wilderness. They are like the martyrs and saints of European tradition, recast in a distinctively Australian drama. In other paintings, Tucker focuses on the stories of John Batman and Eliza Callaghan and nameless outback gamblers.

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