'White over red on blue' c.1971
© Tony Tuckson. Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia
'[this painting brought] us back to something more important: nerves, flesh, blood and bones, the human body and its ways of making contact.'- Daniel Thomas (1)
White over red on blue exudes a passionate energy and vigour, resonating through colour, structure and gesture, yet Tuckson called himself 'just a Sunday painter' (2). He was unencumbered by an extensive palette, using only a translucent lapis-blue ground partly obscured by an opaque layer of 'ox-blood' red, and lusciously applied strokes of brilliant white. One can almost see him sweeping paint energetically across the surface of the masonite in dramatic and confident brushstrokes, each layer established in just enough time for the next.
This sense of the artist's presence parallels Tuckson's interest in and connection to the mark-making and underlying spirituality of Aboriginal art, especially that of the Melville Island burial poles he saw on his travels to northern Australia. Combined with his formative art studies in London and East Sydney Technical College under artists such as Ralph Balson and Grace Crowley, Tuckson also drew inspiration from Cézanne, Ian Fairweather and Matisse. Without becoming derivative, he distilled their work and developed a unique style.
Friend and colleague, Daniel Thomas wrote:
He [Tuckson] was in fact a very pure and very fine Abstract Expressionist, probably Australia's best. He was passionately convinced of the humanity communicated by gesture, he spoke of himself as an action painter and I can't think of any artist's brushmarks whose scale and pace so clearly reveal generosity, modesty, courage and freshness: every mark is exploratory, not once is there any descent into formula, into the deadness of habit. (3)
Belinda Cotton 2002
(1) Daniel Thomas, notes, National Gallery of Australia 1993.
(2) Sydney Morning Herald 28 August 1975.
(3) Daniel Thomas, notes, National Gallery of Australia 1993.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002