John de Burgh Perceval AO (1 February 1923 – 15 October 2000) is a well-known Australian artist. Perceval was the last surviving member of a group known as the “Angry Penguins” who redefined Australian art in the 1940s. Other members included John and Sunday Reed, Joy Hester, Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Albert Tucker.
The painting below is “Ocean Beach, Sorrento”, exhibited in the National Gallery of Victoria. In January 1957 John Perceval visited Portsea and Sorrento as the houseguest of Thomas and Anne Purves, the directors of Australian Galleries, Melbourne. Inspired by the rough and irregular coastline, Perceval painted a small group of works, which he showed in April that year at Australian Galleries, in a joint exhibition with his brother-in-law Arthur Boyd.
‘Ocean beach, Sorrento’, the major work from this series, depicts the rocky Victorian coastline under the dry heat of a summer’s day. Two of the Purves children are shown huddled in a recess in the rocks in the lower right-hand corner of the composition. After making his paintings of Williamstown in 1956, Perceval responded confidently to the subject of water, and in the splash and foam of waves on the shore his calligraphy beautifully matches his subject: paint has been applied frenetically – dribbled and scratched onto the surface – successfully conveying the turbulent water and rugged landscape.
The painting was purchased by Geoffrey Hillas in March 1957. Mr and Mrs Hillas were among the most noted collectors of contemporary Australian art of the period, and their collection included major works by Arthur Boyd, John Brack, John Perceval and Fred Williams.
The National Gallery of Victoria is opening its doors to the public next Monday, 22nd June, as another lot of restrictions due to COVID-19 are lifted. We are looking forward to that opening as we are frequent visitors to this world-class gallery and we have missed spending lots of time in there!
This post is part of the Our World Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Blue Monday meme,
and also part of the Travel Tuesday meme,
and also part of the Wordless Wednesday meme.