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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

George Foxhill

Self Portraits

Previous exhibition
from Saturday 25 November 2006 until Sunday 8 April 2007

Foxhill's portraits are more concerned with describing an emotional and psychological state than the surface topography of the human face. These paintings highlight how simple and complex a portrait can be. Foxhill's ambition in these works is to understand himself by depicting the tensions of human existence as expressed in one life. Foxhill's self portraits somehow reconcile a savage approach and a tender, sensitive effect.

Self Portrait with fruit, 2004
Self Portrait with fruit, 2004

George Foxhill’s paintings somehow reconcile a savage approach and a tender effect. This is particularly evident in this small group of self-portraits.

Foxhill, now 85 years old, is a long time Canberra resident. He studied art in his native Austria, attending the Kunstegewerbeschule and the Volkshochschule in Salzburg after the war. He responded to the expressionist legacy of the city and the hardship and rude vigour of the times. With his wife Rosa he migrated to Australia in 1956 and moved into his house in what is now the inner city suburb of Dickson when it was a first established in 1958. There was little encouragement for the arts in those days and Canberra in particular was culturally arid. Foxhill’s strength of purpose and belief in himself carried him though until he gained a belated recognition in the 1980s.

Foxhill’s work shows affinities with Austrian expressionists like Oskar Kokoschka, whom he met in his youth. Foxhill’s portraits are more concerned with describing an emotional and psychological state than the surface topography of the human face. His ambition in these works is to understand himself, to depict the tensions of human existence as expressed in one life.

In his paintings Foxhill characteristically applies a broad-brush technique, using simple compositions and basic forms with strong symbolic references that nonetheless generate a powerful visual energy. For Foxhill, the aesthetic is less important than the power to move the viewer.

While he often affects a sombre and melancholic atmosphere as a means of expressing the anxiety and profundities of contemporary life, Foxhill is not a pessimist. He paints to reveal the inner man and reconcile an innate brutality with a gentle humanity. He records the tender tragedies of everyday life.

Michael Desmond
Curator

1 . "The determined" Self_portrait 2002 All George Foxhill. © George Foxhill/Copyright Agency, 2021.

Related information

Self Portrait with fruit, 2004
Self Portrait with fruit, 2004
Self Portrait with fruit, 2004
Self Portrait with fruit, 2004

Tender tragedies

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2006

George Foxhill's self portraits were the subject of a small focus display at the National Portrait Gallery in 2006.

Milton Glaser Art is Work
Milton Glaser Art is Work
Milton Glaser Art is Work
Milton Glaser Art is Work

Sam Haskins

Portraits & Other Stories

Previous exhibition, 2006

Haskins is known for his poetic combinations of images and this exhibition of 'extended' portraits builds on this approach.

Virus, 2006 by Ben Quilty
Virus, 2006 by Ben Quilty
Virus, 2006 by Ben Quilty
Virus, 2006 by Ben Quilty

Truth and Likeness

Previous exhibition, 2006

This exhibition seeks to explore the nature of portraiture, providing an investigation into the importance of likeness to contemporary portraits.

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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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