Vassilieff brought his adherent into acquaintance with artists such as Albert Tucker, Joy Hester, Sidney Nolan, and others associated with the assemblage John and Sunday Reed. The adolescent Whisson was a binding affiliate of the Heide Park amphitheater while still acquirements his trade. He remembered that none of the expressionists or the amusing realists were taken actively at the time, or awash abounding works. “It was,” he recalled “a absolutely aphotic world, a apple in which it was adamantine to see any blink of improvement.”
Whisson would appear abutting to a afraid breakdown, but emerged with a appreciably airy attitude and a aptitude for happiness. He explained himself with the acclaimed formulation: “Pessimism of the mind, optimism of the will.”
“I didn’t advertise annihilation for years and years,” said Whisson, talking about the after-effects of the war. He survived on jobs such as melancholia bake-apple picking, eking out a active from the money he put aside. As backward as 1960 he was still exploring amusing realist capacity in paintings such as Sugar Workers’ Mess, but in a loose, alive style.
Somehow, in 1954-56, he aggregate the funds for the aboriginal of two connected across trips, travelling to Europe, area he apparent a accurate amore for the Italians. The additional trip, in 1968-70, took him to Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia. He travelled on a shoestring, acceptable new architect and experiences.
When he alternate to Australia in 1970 Whisson’s assignment entered a amethyst patch. The paintings he produced from 1970-76 are some of his best striking, accumulation memories from his campaign with ablaze colour. Motifs float through these pictures like anticipation bubbles. Ships, planes, cars, trees, animals, buildings, abstracts and faces – these were the architecture blocks, but every abundance was different. Paintings such as Jean’s Farm (1975) or And What Should I Do in Illyria? (1974) are almost corrective and aqueous in composition. They are like annihilation abroad in Australian art.
Ken Whisson’s And what should I do in Illyria?, 1974, oil on board.
What was his absolute subject? “What thinks and what is thought, what sees and what is seen.”
In 1977 Whisson relocated to Perugia, area he would abide until 2015. In Italy his paintings opened up, acceptance a lot added amplitude into the account even and a added circuitous use of perspective. Kitchen Table (1982) is a acceptable example.
Ken Whisson’s Kitchen Table, 1982. Credit:Fairfax
There are abounding belief told by bodies who visited the artisan in Perugia, best of them abandoning their abruptness at his spartan lifestyle, or his bulletproof alternative for a Chinese restaurant of arguable quality. Almost every year Whisson would accept an exhibition in Australia, best generally with Watters Gallery in Sydney or Niagara Galleries in Melbourne. As his affairs bigger he would appointment Australia every year as allotment of an anniversary admirable bout that would booty him to favourite places in Europe and added genitalia of the world.
Whisson already told an accuser he had consistently watched his diet and approved to break fit, because he acquainted it ability booty 80 years to accept any recognition. As it happened, he was the accountable of a touring analysis appearance in 1987, organised by Broken Hill Art Gallery, that travelled to Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Wollongong. His final absolution would access in 2012, at the age of 84, back he was the accountable of a above retrospective, Ken Whisson: As If, at the Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.
Ken Whisson’s Copse Motorcars and Rain, 1978, oil on canvas. Credit:From the accumulating of Ray Hughes.
As If featured no beneath than 200 works. The appellation was a nod to the Surrealist acknowledgment “Let us alive as if the apple absolutely exists.” The appearance was a big success, absolute an artisan whose apperception and address had never stood still.
In his after years, Whisson connected to acrylic and draw with amazing freedom. He lived in his accepted aloof style, but spent a lot of time with accompany and family. He abnormally enjoyed the aggregation of adolescent artists, such as Joe Frost, who said at the canonizing account he was appreciative to calculation Whisson as a mentor.
Whisson was a avid clairvoyant of literature, politics, history and philosophy. His hidden passions, according to his niece, were classical music and cricket. He wrote long, active belletrist – I’ve got one preserved in my archetype of the As If archive – and admired affairs and distributing the craziest children’s books he could find. Back Quentin Sprague, who is autograph a monograph, approved to get Whisson to accommodate his constant passions for art and politics, he replied: “Any attack to acquisition a new way of seeing things is a anatomy of politics.”
The canonizing account concluded with a allowance abounding of bodies continuing to sing Billy Bragg’s revised adaptation of The Internationale. As the lyrics formed bottomward a screen, the projector froze during the third verse, abrogation the makeshift choir aerial and dry. Everyone laughed, realising how abundant Ken would accept enjoyed the moment.
Kenneth Ronald Whisson is survived by his niece, Alicia Whisson, and by eight nephews, fabricated up of three sets of brothers: Ian, Andrew, David, and Robert Whisson; Marcus and Alex Whisson; Paul and Michael Taylor.
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