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James Fardoulys: A Queensland Naive Artist | continued

Fardoulys’s works were immediately successful critically, and they were also appreciated by contemporary artists and their followers. In 1961, Matilda Joe at Cleveland (date unknown) was included in the HC Richards Memorial Prize for painting at the Queensland Art Gallery — the first in what became a significant body of work for Fardoulys. He regularly participated in group exhibitions in Brisbane — including the Gallery’s HC Richards Memorial Prize for painting and the LJ Harvey Prize from 1965 to 1972 — and received special encouragement from the members of the Contemporary Art Society of Australia (Queensland Branch). One of his most widely recognised works, Blue roses 1964, was acquired after the Society’s Annual Autumn Exhibition in 1965 by art dealer Ray Hughes, when Hughes was actively involved with the Brisbane Society. An appreciation of ‘untrained art’ was also enjoyed by expressionist Jon Molvig, who purchased A gallery in the Never Never 1965 after it was rejected from the 1963 Johnsonian Prize (run by the now-defunct Johnsonian Club), Brisbane.8

Brisbane’s principal art critic of the period, Dr Gertrude Langer, became familiar with Fardoulys’s work, and she awarded him joint first prize (with Roy Churcher) at the 1964 Warana-Caltex Queensland Art Contest for The story of the nativity in the north-west no.2 1963.9 She continued to demonstrate her enthusiasm for his work in her review of his first solo exhibition at Brisbane’s Johnstone Gallery in 1966 — it was a sell out:

The collection is a joy. Fardoulys has the wonderful innocence and intensity of vision characteristic of the genuine artists of the people. Like them he paints straight from the heart and has no recourse to methods devised by others to express his own feelings . . . An instinctive sense of sequence, rhythm and balance give his work a charming decorativeness . . .10

These decades were prolific ones for the artist.11 As well as contributing to many local prize competitions which were popular throughout the 1960s and early 1970s — such as the HC Richards Memorial Prize for painting, the annual displays at the Royal National Association (colloquially known as the Royal Queensland Show, or the Brisbane ‘Ekka’), and the Warana-Caltex Art Contest — Fardoulys also submitted his work to the major Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, the David Jones Art Prize, the Gold Coast City Art Prize, and to other small contests.12

Fardoulys was a passionate self-promoter of his own art. He was only beginning his exhibiting career in 1964 when he wrote:

The only time I have had an open exhibition with open honest judges — I got first prize. Therefore I have been robbed 17 times by corrupt administrators. Sir [sic] Missingham and Sir [sic] James Gleeson both black-balled me.13  

Of course, this attitude was not entirely realistic, as these competitions included works by noted artists in many and varied styles. When director Hal Missingham purchased The cattle rustlers, Carnarvon Ranges 1966 for the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Fardoulys’s opinion of him must have been modified. Missingham saw the work when he judged the 1966 HC Richards Memorial Prize for painting, and it was the first of Fardoulys’s work to be acquired for a public collection. However, Fardoulys was characteristically irritable when his work wasn’t included in the 1968 HC Richards Memorial Prize for painting, when ‘All the CAS [members’ works] were hung in duplicate except mine’.14  ...next

James Fardoulys: A Queensland Naive Artist | page 2 | page 3 | page 4 | page 5 | page 6 | Endnotes