26.7 x 25.4cm board; 42.2 x 40.5 x 2.5cm frame
The period between 1919 and 1923 represents Roland Wakelin's moment of genius. During the space of five years he embarked, through a series of tiny paintings, on his now-famous colour-music or synaesthesia experiments with Roy de Maistre, absorbed the sudden tonalist impact of Max Meldrum who visited Sydney in 1920, and in 1923 left for Europe to sort out these two diametrically opposed influences on the direction of his vision.
There are several self portraits by Wakelin of this period, including one of 1923 in the Art Gallery of New South Wales collection, but this work, painted in 1920, was of singular significance to the artist because it is the very first evidence of Meldrum's influence on him. Geometric disposition of shapes, cut-off relationship to the edges, and broad simplified brushwork contain all the sensibility of Wakelin's beautiful small landscape compositions of the previous year, but it is as if colour has been quite suddenly eliminated at the touch of a switch. This little self portrait remains compositionally the conception of a true modernist.
© Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2006
Tracey Lock-Weir (Author), Misty moderns: Australian tonalists 1915-1950, Adelaide, 2008, 101 (colour illus.), 140. NOTE: Refer to Meldrum in Sydney section.
Nick Waterlow (Australia) (Curator), Annabel Pegus (Australia) (Curator), Symposium papers: Colour in art - revisiting 1919 & R-Balson, Paddington, 2008, 8, 11.
'Misty moderns: Australian Tonalists 1915-1950' by Tracey Lock-Weir, pg. 18-19., Artonview Summer 2008-2009, Summer 2008-2009, 19 (colour illus.).
Sotheby's Australia (Australia), Sotheby's Melbourne: Fine Australian paintings, Melbourne, Apr 1995-May 1995. lot no. 186; titled 'Self portrait' 1920
'Roland Wakelin the painter' by Douglas Dundas, pg. 278-282., Art and Australia [series 5, vol. 4, no. 4] Mar 1967-May 1967, Mar 1967-May 1967, 282 (illus.).
Douglas Dundas (Australia, b.1900, d.1981) (Author), Roland Wakelin retrospective, Sydney, 1967. cat.no. 18
Roland Wakelin retrospective (1967), Art Gallery of New South Wales, 08 Apr 1967–30 Apr 1967.
Roland Wakelin retrospective (1967), Newcastle City Art Gallery, 10 May 1967–13 May 1967.
Misty Moderns: Australian Tonalism 1915-1950, Art Gallery of South Australia, 14 Aug 2008–19 Oct 2008.
Misty Moderns: Australian Tonalism 1915-1950, McClelland Gallery, 16 Nov 2008–01 Feb 2009.
Misty Moderns: Australian Tonalism 1915-1950, National Gallery of Australia, 20 Feb 2009–26 Apr 2009.
Misty Moderns: Australian Tonalism 1915-1950, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, 09 May 2009–21 Jun 2009.
Misty Moderns: Australian Tonalism 1915-1950, University of Queensland Art Museum, 17 Jul 2009–13 Sep 2009.
Misty Moderns: Australian Tonalism 1915-1950, Newcastle Region Art Gallery, 09 Oct 2009–29 Nov 2009.