(Australia, England 25 Jun 1919 – 23 Nov 1970)
91.3 x 107.0 cm stretcher; 114.0 x 129.6 x 11.0 cm frame
Born in Salisbury, England in 1919, David Strachan spent his early years in Creswick, near Ballarat in Victoria. His art training began at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, 1936-38, where he began a life-long friendship with Sydney painter Godfrey Miller, and summers were spent at La Grande Chaumiére in Paris. Strachan returned to Melbourne in 1938 and took up classes under George Bell, where fellow students included Peter Purves Smith, Russell Drysdale, Sali Herman and Wolfgang Cardamatis, with whom he shared a studio in Melbourne and following his move to Sydney in 1941.
Strachan's early work, like his fellow Sydney Group co-founders, Jean Bellette and Justin O'Brien, sought inspiration from artists of the past, in particular the Italian artists of the quattrocento, tinctured by Strachan's own interest in the late romantic work of André Derain. He left Australia for Europe in 1948, living for the most part in Paris, where he established Stramur-Presse with the Dutch printer Jacques Murray. He later moved to London, travelled in Italy, Spain and France, then spent over a year in Zurich, during which time he studied at the CG Jung Institute to further his interest in analytical psychology. His creative output during this period openly expresses his developing interest in subconscious imagery, classical mythology, the neo-romantic work of Keith Vaughan and Graham Sutherland, and an exploration of his own poetic and highly personal idiom of visual symbols: sensitive still lives of flowers, shells, fish and fruits, and serene pairings of young lovers communing with birds, invite the viewer to enter a private, mysterious world of the artist's imagination and encourage a wide variety of reading.
Upon his return to Australia in 1960, Strachan maintained a busy exhibition schedule and participated in numerous group exhibitions, taking out the Wynne Prize for landscape painting in 1961 and 1964. His last works, painted prior to his tragic death in a car accident in 1970, and which include his masterpiece 'Flowers, lovers and doves' c1969, are a culmination of his consummate skill as a draughtsman and master of composition, coupled with a delicate handling of the subtle colours of earth and water.
Lou Klepac (Editor), David Strachan, Sydney, 1993, frontispiece (colour illus.), 124.
David Strachan (1919-1970) Retrospective (1993):