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Lloyd Rees

In their own words

Recorded 1961 or 1962

Lloyd Rees
Audio: 2 minutes

I first became interested in painting and drawing so long ago I can hardly remember. I can remember doing friezes of railway trains along the verandah walls, which weren’t altogether acceptable by my parents, and then I did watercolour paintings inside the lids of my mother’s hatboxes.

But from my earliest days, I was always interested in form, and it was not till I got to the problem with pencil and fine paper – hitherto, we also always sketched fuzzily on rough paper – but fine paper and a fine pencil, and then I started to analyse form, and it brought a new element into my work altogether, which I’ve pursued more or less consistently ever since.

The earlier ages of our history placed upon the artist the necessity to become a recorder. Well, now that is past, and I think the confusion between photography and painting has been clarified forever by the latest schools, from Cubism onwards, which have insisted on painting being an art based on its own values and not necessarily based on appearances. By that, I’m not going to say that great art and appearances don’t go together, because all the great masters of the past refute that. But the present-day art is an effort to break away from appearances, and establish painting as a thing based on the human intelligence, emotions, and upon the colour box and the materials used.

The only thing that I feel very strongly about is this: that the artist is a commander. And an artist who is submerged by his material is not an artist at all, he must be a commander and he must control and mould and express his own will upon that material.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Lloyd Rees 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.

Related people

Lloyd Rees AC CMG

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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.

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