Friday, April 27, 2012

Brett Whiteley holds court

Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley holds court, acrylic on masonite, 73x87cm

'Brett did have a genius. A genius for self promotion ... That's what his great genius was for --- creating the myth of Brett Whiteley'.  [Jeff Makin]

'His great talent was for painting but it was not enough. It was never enough. He needed total attention'.  [David Millikan]

James Gleeson wrote of Bett's 'aesthetic integrity being swamped by showmanship'. 'He is an actor masquerading in a cultural charade'.

It was all theatre, the white BMW with BW numberplates, the red camellias he placed under the wipers, the black or white costumes, the sad-eyed addicted wife ... People loved the white suits and the rag-top BMW. They loved the bare bottoms on the beach, the auto-erotic touch, the idea of the artist as an act ... He was mobbed by schoolchildren, recognised wherever he went'. [Hilton & Blundell]

'From early on he was taken up by the glitterati, shallow people who responded. Then came the money-making exercise. It was pretty sad'. [Frank Watters]

all quotes from Hilton, M. & Blundell, G., Whiteley: An unauthorised life, Macmillan: Australia.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Brett Whiteley in the abstract


Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley inspired, oil on canvas, 46x60cm


"A painting is a record of the extremely intensified moments of life - where more than one space, two senses of time, more than the law even seems to work, where the emotional forces seem to be propelling one to a dangerous limit, where reason and explanations become too enfeebled or too speeded up to matter."             Brett Whiteley

Why does Harry keep banging on about Brett Whiteley? Isn't it time he switched to some other theme?

Well, one reason i haven't is that i still find plenty of motivation to pick up a brush when i mull over 'Brettness'.

But another is that many of my drawings and paintings, though entitled with 'Brett Whiteley' in the title, could be about anybody. The physical likeness is pretty loose at the best of times.
In these most recent paintings likeness has been abandoned altogether. These are abstract figurative works - experimental, Expressionist, free-style, gestural. They nevertheless purport to be portraits but quite possibly are not. This very problem was raised for discussion during my Fukushima series here in May of last year.

I title them Brett Whiteleys because i had him and his life and art in mind as i worked. But viewers (if i still have any) should feel free to retitle them as they please. What's in a name?


Friday, April 20, 2012

Brett Whiteley remembers

Harry Kent, Brett Whiteley remembers, acrylic on canvas, 50x60cm


'Memory is a wilful dog. It won't be summoned or dismissed ... It can leave you howling and it can make you smile.’
Elliot Perlman, The Street Sweeper

So i thought about Brett's memories, especially those of Wendy and of his heyday in the 1970's ... memories in the midst of his isolation and depression in the 1990's.

I wanted an image that did both - suggested Brett 'howling' and suggested Brett 'smiling', as the wilful dog came and went.

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