Peter Upward was born in Melbourne in 1932; much of his childhood was spent at Warrandyte, attending an alternative school where he was briefly taught by Danila Vassilieff. He commenced studies in art at Melbourne Technical College in 1951 but soon left for Sydney, where he studied at the Julian Ashton Art School under John Passmore, who encouraged his interest in abstraction. He returned to Melbourne in the late 1950s but returned frequently to Sydney by 1959, eventually establishing a studio in Woolloomooloo.
Upward is probably best known for the work he made between in the early 1960s created in Sydney (and then London, from 1962). This period saw the creation of a large body of abstract paintings with a limited palette of poured paint and gestural marks, which firmly established his reputation as a major figure of his generation. While these works are often described as 'abstract expressionist', Upward's work was influenced by a number of sources, including reproductions in international books and journals, his readings on Zen (particularly the book 'Studies in zen' by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki) and his interest in Chinese and Japanese calligraphy.
oil on thin ivory wove paper
75.5 x 51.5 cm (irreg.) sheet
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.l., black ink "Upward/ 63".
Gift of Julienne Harris and Asia Upward 2013. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Not on display
© Courtesy Julie Harris