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Roland Wakelin

Roland_Wakelin_The_bridge_under_construction_1928.jpg

Roland Wakelin | New Zealand/Australia 1887–1971 | The bridge under construction 1928 | Oil on composition board | Purchased 1994. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant. Celebrating the Queensland Art Gallery's Centenary 1895–1995 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Roland Wakelin The bridge under construction 1928
Roland Wakelin
New Zealand/Australia 1887–1971
The bridge under construction 1928
Oil on composition board
Purchased 1994.  Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant. Celebrating the Queensland Art Gallery's Centenary 1895–1995
Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Roland Wakelin

The bridge under construction 1928

Roland Wakelin is considered as one of the founders of Australian Modernism. He was, along with Roy de Maistre, Grace Cossington Smith, Kenneth Macqueen and Margaret Preston, a member of what later came to be called the Contemporary Group.

In the year Wakelin painted this picture, he published an article on Cézanne and modern painting. It was among the first attempts to explain Modernism to an Australian audience. He wrote that concentration on realistic representation resulted in a destruction of the ‘rhythmic flow of line’. Wakelin and the younger painters of the 1920s considered paintings as ‘objects’ in themselves — flat surfaces on which colour, tone and line are manipulated, independent of reality. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was a popular subject for Sydney modernists because it symbolised everything that was progressive in Australia.

An anonymous art critic (possibly Basil Burdett) at the Sydney Morning Herald wrote of Wakelin’s 1928 exhibition: ‘... there is much more in these works than appears to a casual glance — especially in the glance of one accustomed to the highly finished technique of the realistic school. Mr Wakelin is a follower of Cezanne. He emulates the French painter, striving after mass and adopts the same methods as Cezanne to obtain these qualities. His work is stimulating and grows upon the spectator who approaches it in a sympathetic spirit'.