'Deluge - stampede of the lower gods' 1927
Writhing and twisting, a fantastical assortment of mythological and pagan creatures attempts to flee from the coming tide of the Biblical flood. Rayner Hoff's Deluge -- stampede of the lower gods is a technical tour de force, combining numerous figures from eclectic sources, including Silenus astride his ass, Pan with his pipes, a dragon and a minotaur together with two Australian Indigenous figures in a shallow frieze. The highly decorative repetition of textures throughout the work is reminiscent of the popular Art Deco style of the period and, indeed, this work was once installed in a fashionable Sydney café.
Together with artists and writers including Norman and Jack Lindsay, Hoff was part of the revival of paganism in the 1920s. He considered the pre-Christian, pagan deities as metaphors for the primary energy that he believed was the underlying animating principle of life.
Born in the Isle of Man, Hoff migrated to Australia in 1923 and quickly established himself as Sydney's foremost sculptor and an influential teacher at the East Sydney Technical School. He is best known for his sculptures for the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park, Sydney.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Ron Radford (ed), Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2008