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Tony McGillick

Australia, England 1941-1992
Born in Sydney and trained at the Julian Ashton School of Art, McGillick worked as an art director in advertising as well as a practising artist. After returning from several years in London, he helped establish the Central Street Gallery in 1966 to introduce the ideas of colour-field painting to Sydney, and was one of the artists who exhibited in the groundbreaking 1968 exhibition The field. He experimented with a modular way of constructing paintings, with components painted in single colours, arranged in different ways.

Jasper’s gesture 1966

While the focus of this work is colour and its interaction within the painting, the unusual, irregular polygon shape is also significant. Like other artists at this time, McGillick was exploring the idea that the shape of a painting need not be confined to the ‘neutral’ convention of a square, rectangle, oval or circle, but could be a dynamic part of the composition.

He painted Jasper’s gesture in Sydney after returning from London and the USA where he’d seen the work of hard-edge or colour-field painters. The title is a tribute to his then mentor, American artist Jasper Johns, who also used encaustic (the pigment and wax on the white panel in this work).

Tony McGillick Jasper’s gesture 1966