Ian Fairweather is widely recognised as the most influential abstract painter in Australia in the post-war period. Although living in isolation on Bribie Island off the coast of Queensland, the assurance of his abstract, visionary paintings provided an essential reference point for Australian abstraction to aspire to.Read More
Fairweather was born in Scotland, studying at the Slade School of Art in the early 1920s. From 1929 until 1951 he lived a nomadic life, resident in China (1929-1932) and studying language and calligraphy. He visited Melbourne in 1934, working with George Bell and later travelling through the Orient, briefly returning to Australia in 1943 and finally residing on Bribie Island in 1952.
From 1959 to the mid-1960s he completed his most influential works, including paintings such as Monastery (1961) which won the John McCaughey Prize in 1966. Building layer upon opaque layer of energetic calligraphic marks that seemingly shift between abstraction and figuration, landscape and self-portrait, Fairweather’s painting reconcile chaos and tranquillity, order and intuition. In 1973 he received the International Co-operation Art Award for his outstanding contribution to Australian art.
Work by Fairweather is held in the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and the Tate Gallery, London.