Robert Jacks Important Selling Retrospective
Address: 409 Malvern road South Yarra Vic 3141
Date: 25 May 2019
Blaze of Days
oil on canvas
signed, titled an dated to verso
198cm, by 198cm
Exhibited: Order and Variation, National Gallery of Victoria, 2014. ( Illustrated in the catalogue Pg. 143)
Sadly Robert Jacks did not live to see the opening of his triumphant retrospective at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2014. The brilliant catalogue published by the NGV for this fabulous exhibition is a work of art in itself and serves as the most significant publication to date on the artist, whom former NGV director Patrick McCaughey, described as a master of his own material.
Noted art critic John McDonald, in his review of this major exhibition and writing in the Sydney Morning Herald on November 8th 2014 said: "In the sensuous silhouette of a guitar or the subtle juxtapositions of colour in a grid, he (Jacks) was revisiting his life’s work, constructing a summa and testament for a career in which the analytical impulse strove for dominance with an irrepressible sense of beauty”.
What the NGV retrospective showed so well, was the breadth of the artist’s career and Robert Jacks' artistic consistency over five decades. Always moving with the times, Jacks stayed slightly ahead of the pack, whilst remaining true to his own vision and his inspirations. From his early works of the 1950s and 1960s, where St Ives school visionaries such as Ben Nicholson and Barbra Hepworth, deeply influenced his thinking and excited him, Jacks developed his own language that explored and pushed his own boundaries.
Jacks was represented in the famous exhibition The Field, at the NGV in 1968 which was both ground breaking and controversial in its era.
Jacks studied sculpture from 1958-1960 at Prahran Technical College and while he exhibited more often as a painter over the decades, sculpture remained integral and deeply rooted to his practice. In fact, you could say that his paintings are two-dimensional sculptures in themselves. You only have to place a sculpture next to a related painting for there to be an immediate and obvious harmony.
Jacks always had an awareness of the world around him, especially with the era’s progressive art movements. He immersed himself within the avant-garde thinking of the day and this was evident in his work throughout his life. From the minimalist works inspired by New York city art culture of the late 1960s and 1970s, through to the vibrant and powerful large-scale works he produced in Sydney during the 1980s and beyond, Jacks never stopped assessing, recalibrating and moving forward.
As well as the many exhibitions at state and regional institutions, Robert Jacks' commercial exhibiting history in Australia was active and illustrious and included exhibitions in his early years at such legendary galleries as Gallery A and Realities Gallery (Melbourne) and Bonython Gallery (Sydney) and Ray Hughes Gallery (Brisbane). In later years he showed regularly with Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery as well as at Anna Schwartz Gallery, Robert Lindsay Gallery, Deutscher Fine Art, Australian Galleries, Tim Olsen Gallery and Philip Bacon Galleries, to name a few.
At Gallery A which held Jacks' debut exhibition in 1966, his show was a total sell out and included in these sales was a major acquisition for the state collection by (Sir) Eric Westbrook then director of the National Gallery of Victoria. While such meteoric early success brought with it some problems, which in part lead to Jacks leaving Australia for the US and Canada, he enjoyed a long and successful commercial exhibiting history in this country.
At the conclusion of his life, when you observe Jack's work from the mid to late 2000s, you see an artist that stayed true to himself into his sixth decade as a practicing and exhibiting artist. This is very rare, especially for an Australian artist over this period. Commercial factors alone have often pressured Australian artists to take tangental paths. Jacks would often look back to his early work to refresh and reinspire himself and it is perhaps his own retrospection that allowed him to stay so very connected to himself as an artist over such a long time.
Looking back over his career as an Australian abstract colourist, working and exhibiting as he was in the hey-day of this genre, that is the 1960s and 1970s, Robert Jacks has to be considered among the greatest this country has produced.
Artvisory is honoured to present this selling retrospective covering five decades of Robert Jacks' stellar career as a painter, a sculptor and foremost as a thinker, an exhibition which comprises some of the most significant works left within the artist’s studio. Artvisory are very pleased to offer many of the works for the first time on behalf of the artist’s estate. Most have not been seen for decades and a few of these works were included in and exhibited at the NGV’s important Robert Jacks Retrospective – Order and Variations.
Paul Sumner Artvisory, May 2019