Charles Blackman | Australia b.1928 | City lights 1952 | Oil on composition board | 74 x 62cm | Purchased 2005 with funds from the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Blackman Art Appeal Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | © Charles Blackman, 1952. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney 2006
City lights 1952
Oil on composition board
74 x 62cm
Purchased 2005 with funds from the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Blackman Art Appeal
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
© Charles Blackman, 1952. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney 2006
City lights 1952
Charles Blackman is a distinguished Australian artist with important connections to Queensland. In 1948 he hitchhiked to Brisbane where he met the young artists of the Miya Studio, including his future wife, Barbara Paterson. At the Moreton Galleries in Brisbane, Blackman was introduced to the work of Sidney Nolan in an exhibition of works inspired by Fraser Island. Nolan also inspired the young couple’s move to Melbourne in 1951, where Blackman found himself attracted to the beachside suburb of St Kilda.
In the winter of the following year the Blackmans travelled north again ― the first of several annual visits to Barbara’s mother and the poet Judith Wright, at Mt Tamborine. The influence of Nolan clearly continued as City lights 1952 is strikingly like his St Kilda works.
City lights is painted from North Quay, directly opposite the present site of the Queensland Art Gallery — in the distance are the arched sections of the old Victoria Bridge (demolished in 1969). The painting is formally balanced, almost bilaterally symmetrical, yet the composition is set just off-centre, which establishes an atmosphere of unease; it is as though the social disjuncture caused by World War Two had yet to settle into the comfort and security of the 1950s.