Sir Sidney Nolan AC OM CBE, among the most original and inventive Australian artist of the post-war decades, was one of the few Australian artists to achieve an international reputation in the twentieth century. After becoming associated with the modernist art patrons John and Sunday Reed, he made the complex series of paintings of Ned Kelly for which he is best known at their home Heide between 1945 and 1947. From 1950 Nolan lived abroad, but returned to Australia at regular intervals and continued to explore Australian themes and landscapes. A major retrospective of his work, Sidney Nolan – A New Retrospective, held at the Art Gallery of NSW in 2007, brought together more than 100 of his works.
Nolan painted a number of self portraits, beginning early in his career. The merged inky blues, pinks and subtle greys of this example are characteristic of the artist's late style. While there is a trace of a satisfied smile, the face is elusive, hazy, veiled, with the head apparently oscillating between profile and three-quarter view. Ultimately, the painting is ambiguous, seeming, like all Nolan's self portraits, to allude simultaneously to his public persona and his internal imagination – to both the mask, and the inner poetry of the artist.
Showing all 5 artworks