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Albert Tucker

In their own words

Recorded 1961

Albert Tucker
Audio: 2 minutes

The question of why I paint is always pretty ambiguous. I think it’s answering an inner compulsion, because if I didn’t find this particular form of activity – to me it’s one that is defining things to myself and defining myself – I’m not quite sure what would happen to me if I didn’t answer this kind of inner compulsion. And I suppose it relates to one’s attitude to life. I think that, despite all the negative and destructive powers that are constantly at work with us, that one is constantly striving to affirm life, to be in love with it, and these are the tokens of affection on our way, as it were.

The question of why I paint the particular things I do is also pretty ambiguous. I think I would say that I’m trying to exorcise my own particular devils, and I suppose some of them get into the painting. I hope they do, that’s where I’m trying to put them, and get rid of them.

But once out, of course, one can then feel this kind of relaxation, the affirmation flows in, and the devils in the painting can sometimes turn into angels.

I suppose in the act of work that it is essentially a struggle to escape the enmeshment of one’s ego, and in the attempt to struggle free one seems externally, to the external world, to be a very egocentric person, because you’re following a necessary compulsion without which one loses one’s own balance and direction in life; and in the act of working one is defining these shapes, ejecting them as it were, and getting rid of them; and this process of ejectment is one there which is defining and clarifying one’s own particular kind of energy which you are attempting to flow out into life.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Albert Tucker is from the De Berg Collection in the National Library of Australia. For more information, or to hear full versions of the recordings, visit the National Library of Australia website.

Audio source

National Library of Australia, Hazel de Berg collection

Related people

Albert Tucker

Related information

The possessed, 1942 by Albert Tucker
The possessed, 1942 by Albert Tucker
The possessed, 1942 by Albert Tucker
The possessed, 1942 by Albert Tucker

The inner voice

Magazine article by Dr Christopher Chapman, 2011

Dr Christopher Chapman, curator of Inner Worlds: Portraits & Psychology looks at Albert Tucker's Heidelberg military hospital portraits.

Inner Worlds

Portraits and Psychology

Previous exhibition, 2011

Portraits of Australia’s pioneering psychologists and artworks by artists fascinated by the subconscious mind.

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The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency