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Australian art

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Two hippocritters in tumultuous circumstances



James Gleeson


21 Nov 1915 - 20 Oct 2008


"When you make collages - and I did quite a few quite early in the piece - you bring together random elements. However, you do make a judgement on an aesthetic level as to whether they work or not. It doesn't matter whether they're related in a rational way or not, but they must work together aesthetically."
- James Gleeson 1993

Gleeson began making a large number of collages at a period when he was unable to paint consistently, due to commitments as an advisor to the National Gallery of Australia. They are complex juxtapositions of drawn and collaged elements; ink is applied to the paper in a number of ways - for example, with a brush onto dampened paper which is then pressed on a textured surface, leaving a ghostly impression, or using the technique of frottage, where the paper is rubbed with a crayon or wax, allowing a texture underneath to be superimposed on the image.

'Two hippocritters in tumultuous circumstances' is from one of his most important series of collages, the 'Locus-Solus' suite, derived from a surrealist novel by Raymond Roussel, also the name of a work conceived jointly by Gleeson and Robert Klippel between 1972 and 1978.

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000




Media categories

Drawing , Collage

Materials used

synthetic polymer paint, photocopy collage, brush and ink, wash, frottage on paper


102.5 x 69.0 cm sheet; 129.7 x 94.3 x 3.7 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r.corner black ink, "Gleeson '78".


Purchased 1987


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

James Gleeson

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


James Agapitos, Look, 'Call of the benefactor', pg. 12-13, Sydney, May 2006, 13 (colour illus.).

Renée Free, James Gleeson: images from the shadows, Sydney, 1993, 153 (illus.). figure 26

Hendrik Kolenberg, Contemporary Australian drawings: from the collection, Sydney, 1992. 20

James Gleeson: beyond the phenomenal world, 1987. Cat. no. 2