The recently opened, specifically constructed oval space, to greatest effect, one of the most iconic artists Sidney Nolan, and his greatest ‘muse’ Ned Kelly.
In 1977 Sunday Reed the early 20th Century art collector and benefactor donated 25 of the 26 paintings on the National Gallery of Australia’s entry level. Nolan’s paintings were inspired by Kelly’s own words, the French artist Rousseau, and sunlight. It is clear from the paintings titles that Sidney Nolan meticulously researched Kelly’s life and in particular the events leading up to his capture.Accordingly, Nolan’s two passions – literature and the visual arts combined perfectly in the Ned Kelly series.Nolans’ bright, sunlit landscapes utilise commercial house painter’s vivid enamel colours are in sharp contrast to the dusty hues of the Burke and Wills series in the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
The vibrancy of the colours with that ‘black slash’ in the middle, the simplicity and naivety of style, the scholarship behind the images, and the oval display assault the senses such that the Kelly story is elevated to that of myth.
This exhibition is on permanent display at the National Gallery of Australia.