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James Gleeson

1915 – 2008

James Gleeson AO was Australia's best-known surrealist artist, and from the late 1930s onwards he was a tireless supporter of Australian modern art. Deeply interested in psychology, he wrote poetry and many essays and several books on Australian art. His own art has been the subject of several major exhibitions. As a young boy he lived at Gosford on the New South Wales Central Coast and much of his art work has been inspired by the beach rock pools from his youth, 'full of marvellous shapes' and 'biomorphic forms'. For Gleeson the littoral zone where sea meets land was a powerful metaphor for the interplay of the conscious and unconscious mind and of the fluid nature of existence. Gleeson reflected that 'One of the most important and constantly recurring motifs throughout my work is based on a sense of the mutability of all forms and substances. Metamorphosis has always been, for me, one of the basic facts of life. Everything takes on a form, changes, falls apart and reforms in new organisations in an endless cycle.'

Updated 2018