Brett Whiteley Exhibition

Brett Whiteley was the painter that pulled the curtain back for me. Before Brett Whiteley I thought painting was either boring old portraits, pretty landscapes, or weird stuff that I didn’t understand. His was the first art book that I ever bought and I still have it today, even if it is a little beat up and paint spattered.

Anyway, I went to a Brett Whiteley exhibition today called “9 Shades of Whiteley” at the Newcastle Region Art Gallery. It’s like a mini-retrospective of his career that touches on all of his big themes or periods.

It took me back about 16 years to when I was a 17 year old falling in love with his art for the first time. He got me hooked on art and I have been a hardcore user ever since.

Brett Whiteley Exhibition
Brett Whiteley – The 15 great dog pisses of Paris 1989
(He obviously had a sense of humor)

Brett Whiteley Sydney Painting
Brett Whiteley – Big orange (sunset) 1974
(This painting wasn’t in the Newcastle exhibition)

Brett Whiteley John Christie Painting
Brett Whiteley – Christie 1965
(This painting is from the UK serial killer John Christie series)

Brett Whiteley Nude in Bath
Brett Whiteley – Woman in bath 1963 (reworked 1964)
(This painting wasn’t in the Newcastle exhibition)

There’s an education kit here in PDF format for those that want to learn about the artist. See the official Brett Whiteley website here (his studio is worth a visit in Sydney too). Here’s a larger image of the man himself, Self Portrait in the Studio.

About Dion

Australian artist and observer of things.. all kinds of things. I like a wide variety of art, from the weird and wonderful to the bold and beautiful.. and everything in between.


  1. Interesting stuff, I looked at his site earlier when you recommended him. He goes for emotion, starting with it, then working his way, exploring, experimenting, to get what he wanted without too much preconception. I like that, as true creative artists do.

    Sort of like a more expressionist Diebenkorn. Though Diebenkorn drew better, and had stronger structure, Whiteleys flows better than much of our local boys work. I like some much more than others, but hey, I do about my own stuff too. Sometimes people like what I consider weak works, happens.

    I see some influences I dont care for, but he left them behind quickly, didnt stick to any theoretical nonsense. Overall good work. Though hard to tell from a monitor, I do think he often worked too large, some things seem like they would have been better smaller. Cant go 2 meter all the time, each work calls for its own size to breathe. But we all want to compete against those wo came before, and Matisse usually worked that size, and that was the beast he was out to slay. In his own quirky way.

    Did you enjoy the show? Anything new you hadnt seen or looked better live? I have seen some that were disappointing for various reasons live, but great work bears repeated viewings, needs three at least in different moods and taking int to see if it is true creative Art. For that grows on you with time, if it doesnt, it failed, or was always just illustration, as most contemporary art is.

    He was a Modern, used the entire surface, usually, building up the painting as the image itself, not whatever the subject, the motif, was. Few do that anymore, takes too much work and layering, and interaction of forms, colors, lines and rhythms. The digital age has led to a very short attention span. He seems a little ADHD, but worked in bits and pieces to pull it all together. Good stuff

    art collegia delenda est

  2. Actually, he’s a wonderful draftsman Donald. There’s not much online that I can point to, but he really could draw.

    He did let a lot of crap out of his studio that should have been destroyed, just as all artists do.

    Heroin and performing for his collectors didnt do him any favors.

    And yeah I enjoyed the show. I had already seen most of the work before but I dont mind revisiting art that I like.


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