1. A related painting The Bar (1954) was modelled on Manet's 1882 A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, and satirised the six o'clock swill, a social ritual arising from the early closing of Australian pubs. It also marked a certain turning point in his own art and within a couple of years he abandoned this form of figurative composition, and with the occasional exceptions of nudes and portraits, in his subsequent art he employed only postcards, knives, forks, pens and pencils to make a comment on the human condition. They haven't quite grown into the masks they wear. This time it’s mostly children in the gymnasium, the ballet class or ice-skating, all perfecting their skill at difficult, absurdly useless, artificial activities. ‘John Brack on John Brack’ (1977) Fine Art Programme, Australian National University, Canberra, Lecture delivered 19 September 1977, transcript p.7, 2. Of the 12 paintings and 10 smaller works in this exhibition, Junior Latin American was the only one not to feature adult dancers. All of these paintings can all be interpreted as making a broader allegorical comment on life and marriage. His highly cerebral, smooth and hard-edged painting style was unique in the context of both the expressive figuration of Melbourne contemporaries such as Arthur Boyd and Albert Tucker, and the rapid growth of abstraction in his time. In October 1971 Brack had successfully entered a painting from his Gymnast series, Three pairs 1971, in the Travelodge Painting Prize, which was then Australia’s richest individual art prize. Embracing art at 17, Brack had something special that made him an aspiring creator - a great mind. Opening 24 April, the National Gallery of Victoria will present a major retrospective of the work of John Brack, the first in more than twenty years. If one glances at the traces on the ice made by the blades of their skates, it is clear that they are retracing a path which they and many like them have travelled before. A comprehensive audio and visual guide has been produced for this exhibition along with an extensive Education and Public Programs schedule. Nonetheless, Brack viewed his subject with sympathy, understanding and compassion: When I paint a woman … I am not interested in how she looks sitting in the studio, but in how she looks at all times, in all lights, what she looked like before and what she is going to look like, what she thinks, hopes, believes and dreams. In a career spanning four decades, his distinctive voice – characterised by a meticulously controlled drawing and painting style – set him apart from his contemporaries. Closed Good Friday & Christmas Day, Barry Humphries in the character of Mrs Everage, Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19, Read the latest visit information, including hours.
Brack produced compelling pictures which captured the essential characteristics of his subjects involved in everyday activities and, in some of his most engaging series, he depicted the characters of the racecourse, children at school and professional ballroom dancers.