Drysdale brings in the crowds at Ararat Regional Art Gallery

Russell Drysdale, Evening Camp 1961, pen, ink, 25x33cm, AlburyCity Collection.
Russell Drysdale, Evening Camp 1961, pen, ink, 25x33cm, AlburyCity Collection.

People are visiting the Ararat Regional Art Gallery in good numbers to see an exhibition of rare drawings by the late acclaimed Australian artist, Sir Russell Drysdale (1912-1981).

A household name, Drysdale is widely known for his iconic images of rural Australian people and places, which form an vital part of the lexicon of Australian art.

Rising to prominence in the late 1930s Drysdale was one of the first Australian artists to popularise modern art - no mean feat given the strong resistance from traditionalists who sought to establish Australia as the last bastion of academic painting.

Drysdale achieved this through capturing the essence of Australian life and landscape in paintings that spoke to audiences in a powerful and direct way.

Influenced by French modern art in particular, he combined expressionism and social realism to create his own distinct visual language.

By the 1950s through to his death in 1981 Drysdale was celebrated as Australia's preeminent national painter.

He paved the way for modern artists such as Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and many others who rose to prominence after World War II.

'Drawing on Drysdale' is an important exhibition which tracks the artist's development through the practice of drawing.

Drysdale was raised in Albury and returned there throughout his life. This exhibition draws of the extensive holdings of Drysdale's work in the AlburyCity Collection.

The exhibition includes very early drawings from the early 1930s, before Drysdale commenced formal art studies in Melbourne and before he visited Paris in the late 1930s.

It is a rare opportunity to track his artistic development from his very earliest accomplished works through to his late career.

'Drawing on Drysdale' presents drawings, sketches, written material and objects, including Drysdale's portable easel, in an exhibition that celebrates a major Australian artist responsible for reshaping the way we see Australia.

'Drawing on Drysdale' continues to August 24 2014.

Anthony Camm


Ararat Regional Art Gallery


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