Ngununggula, regional art gallery, will be presenting John Olsen: Goya's Dog from March 26 to May 15.
The exhibition is a survey of a seminal Australian artist, and Southern Highlands local, which passages eight decades of his remarkable career from the mid 1950s, when he first visited Spain, to the present.
In partnership with the National Art School (Sydney), the exhibition was conceptualised by the late William Wright AM and brought to fruition by the NAS Director Steven Alderton, where Olsen studied as a young man, and today is an NAS Fellow.
The exhibition was launched at the National Art School in June 2021, before travelling to the Southern Highlands in an exclusive tour.
"Goya's Dog features more than 60 of his major works, sketchbooks and drawings, including new works made this year, and many from private collections not seen in public for generations," said Mr Alderton.
"John has always followed his lifelong urge to set sail into the unknown.
"Through the storms, struggles and soul-searching, he has found periods of illumination, when he can capture the energy and elemental life forces of nature, and what it is to be human in this world."
Ngununggula director, Megan Monte, said it was with great pleasure that the gallery was presenting this deep look at a lesser known aspect of Olsen's career.
"Goya's Dog is a remarkable journey that tracks the influence of John's Spanish encounters," she said.
"While all works do not turn to the sunny bold gestural paintings we immediately think of with Olsen, this exhibition offers a rare, introspective view of the human condition and landscape, which is equally rewarding as a viewer."
It was in the mid 1950s that John Olsen first travelled to Spain and became entranced with the country's culture, its poetry, literature, and music.
In an interview, John Olsen described this time.
"It was a remarkable experience because Spain was completely isolated from the modishness of the 20th century, it was still the essential heart of Europe," he said.
"As I began to study, I became aware that even though Spain is a bright and sunny country, that its principle painting lay on the basis of tone, Velazquez, Goya, Murrillo, and somehow those earthy tones reverberated the soul of Spain."
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Goya's Dog begins at this moment, as a young artist, and journeys across time, across landscapes and life experiences with an enduring passion that bubbles up across his work over the decades that followed.
The exhibition takes its cue from Francisco Goya's pinturas negras (black paintings), which Olsen viewed in Madrid's Museo del Prado during the 1980s.
Olsen noted in his journal at the time, "Goya's dog - the disquieting animal head, peeping from the earth - dog and earth become interchangeable - dark and solemn, locked in itself, probing the sky like a primitive radar - asking for a sign."
He vowed to bring the dog back to Australia, and across the exhibition viewers will encounter paintings which powerfully confront introspection and darkness.
The exhibition also features Olsen's work from the 1970s, 80s and 90s, a period when his vital 'larrikin' voice emerged, a joie de vie and zest for life, parallel with his profound engagement with the Australian landscape.
Olsen has been described as a visual poet, with his deep love of poetry, nature and food often underpinning his work.
This is a remarkable exhibition of human spirit fleshed out over 60 major works.
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