Menzies Art Brands

Lot 22. John Olsen Blog by Tim Abdallah


John Olsen is widely thought of as Australias greatest living artist. His earliest recorded paintings date back to the 1940s, and by 1960 he was an important member of the Sydney art scene and taking part in major exhibitions. Olsen still makes headlines for his art, it seems like only a few years ago (2005) that he was winner of the Archibald Prize at the age of 78.  He continues today to be an active painter, printmaker, sculptor and watercolour painter.

Chasing the Rhino, (lot 2) is a large watercolour, painted in 1992 showing a charging rhinoceros  with a figure and a pelican ducking away behind it, and with an African landscape and blazing sun in the  background. Its a classic image with all the signature Olsen observation, wit and technical skill which we value so highly. What is exceptional about the painting, and what makes it an historically important piece as well is the collection of 71 snapshot photographs documenting the artists every step in producing the work. Its a fascinating insight into the way Olsen works and the image is built up over a period of several days. The photos are a unique and important record of a major painter at the height of his creativity in the act of making his art.

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