Cover image of the review
Recent Tendencies in Women's Painting installation shot, L-R: Hana Earles, *Bruce Earles*, 2020, oil on canvas; Hana Earles, *Jenny*, 2018, pencil, ink, paper, acrylic on canvas; Alethea Everard, *untitled*, 2019, acrylic on mdf, cd case. Courtesy of the artists and Guzzler, Melbourne.

A Case of the Old and New / Recent Tendencies in Women’s Painting, Melbourne (I) + (II)

7 Nov 2020
A Case of the Old and New, Recent Tendencies in Women’s Painting, Melbourne (I) + (II), Guzzler

There was a wonderful moment at the 2017 Gareth Sansom retrospective at NGV Australia when, during his floor talk, Sansom described the making of Sweeney Agonistes (2005), the work he painted in memory of his friend Sweeney Reed, who took his own life in 1979.

In Sansom’s painting, a large five-metre wide triptych, a strange anthropomorphic creature strides towards a ghost-like shroud atop a crucifix, while to the left a hunched grey-bearded figure stares out unblinkingly at the spectator. The same pink background runs throughout, although it is a slightly different pink in the panel on the left, where it is also broken up by orange and yellow.

Gareth Sansom, Sweeney Agonistes, 2005, oil, enamel and collage on linen, triptych: 213 x 549cm (overall), collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art. The James C. Sourris AM Collection. Gift of James C. Sourris AM through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2012, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program.

The two right-hand side panels, Sansom explained, had apparently been sitting finished but unsatisfactorily so in his studio until one New Year’s Eve he suddenly realised what needed to be done with them. Working on them uninterruptedly all night and apparently fuelled, so the painting tells us, by drugs where we read there the words “Last New Year’s Eve He Stayed Up Alone Sniffing Amyl”. Sansom painted the third panel to the left to add to the two he had previously made, introducing what might be understood as a witness figure to the tragic events depicted to the right.

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