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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.

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James Gleeson

1974 (printed 2014)
Douglas Thompson

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 48.3 cm x 32.9 cm, image: 40.0 cm x 30.5 cm)

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.'

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2015
© Douglas Thompson

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Douglas Thompson

James Gleeson (age 59 in 1974)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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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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