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Auguste Blackman grew up the son of two icons: Charles and Barbara Blackman. The former was a prominent figure in Australian Modernism; a man whose Schoolgirls and Alices are embedded in our visual lexicon. The latter, Barbara Blackman, is a poet, writer, advocate and muse. By the age of twenty-two she was blind, a diagnosis that at first felt like “a life sentence for a crime I had not committed” but in turn gave her a unique outlook on life.
Like Barbara to Charles, the faces populating ‘Women’ (the series from which this work stems) are Auguste’s muses. They continue a longtime art historical interest in the feminina, placing, as the artist states “iconic heads of women” foremost. There are echoes of Pablo Picasso’s cubist portraits, Henri Matisse’s bliss and Charles’s bittersweet. Conceived in drawing class then animated in Auguste’s studio, these women are odes to the feminine lifeforce. Lines wind around them like rivers, “a map of the trials they have endured” says Auguste.
Auguste dedicates this series to his mother. While perhaps best known for her marriage, Barbara lived a life in many acts. She was a columnist, radio-producer and an interviewer for the National Library’s oral history program. She wrote two books, one an autobiography and the other a transcript of her correspondence with writer Judith Wright, and 2012 was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia. Most vivid however, is her outlook on life – steered by emotional honesty, she perceived blindness not as a negative but as “a different way of seeing”.
This work was born during quarantine. It is a reflection of Auguste’s upbringing shepherded by a vibrant woman, and of the diverse and vital roles women play worldwide, especially during hardship. What is home with women? “It is her love in all things” muses Auguste, “the world will only succeed with women at the helm… against all odds she will prevail”.
For collectors of Auguste, the Blackmans and appreciators of the feminine, this work is a heartening find. Auguste BLACKMAN (1957 - )'Woman in Orange Foliage' 2020Polymer and ink on paperImage Size: 54 x 44 cm Dimensions: 54 x 44 cm Signed: Initialled left corner: AB.Comes with Letter of Provenance
© The Artist or Assignee
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