Libby Edwards Galleries & Art Consultancy

James Gleeson

Renowned as Australia’s foremost surrealist painter and poet, James Gleeson’s oeuvre explores the human condition beyond visible reality and the limitations of the senses through powerful enigmas of fleshy biomorphic, mechanical and illusionistic landscape forms. In addition to his contributions to surrealism, throughout his career Gleeson made important contributions to the Australian art world as a dedicated writer, critic and affiliate of a number of art institutions.

Gleeson studied at East Sydney Technical College from 1934 to 1936, and then at the Sydney Teachers’ College from 1937 to 1938 where teacher May Marsden encouraged experimentation. His interest in Poussin, El Greco, Breughel and Blake instilled a love of the classical figure and myth, coupled with a concern for humanity that was deeply impacted by the Depression, the rise of Fascism in Europe and the build-up to the Second World War.

Returning to painting in the 1980s, Gleeson developed a spectacular series of large-scale imaginary landscapes in which geological formations mesh with organs, bones and interconnective tissues, symbolic of a macabre, erotic but strangely beautiful subconsciousness. Executed in sensuous painterly brushstrokes "the arrival of implacable gifts", 1985, transforms J.M.W. Turner's storm-tossed Slave ship, 1840, into a skybourne vessel dispensing mystery parcels onto a strange shoreline, evoking a cosmic experience of nature in constant evolution and metamorphosis.


excerpt from Art Gallery of NSW website: