Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Australian art

Contemporary art

View More:


Untitled #836



Louise Hearman


06 Sep 1963 -


Spectral presences are often found in Louise Hearman's darkly toned paintings. Children hover above fields, massively out of scale heads seem to appear in trees, disembodied creatures lurk in the undergrowth. While Hearman also paints portraits and genre subjects, some of her most evocative works have been landscapes caught somewhere between daylight and twilight, strangely both darkly toned and brightly lit. While a passing glance may suggest a familiar melancholic vision of the land, a longer gaze reveals the surreal scenes that populate Hearman's landscapes.

In 'Untitled #836' what appears to be a gum tree in the centre of the painting harbours a dogs disembodied and massively outsize head. It looks back at us - still, passive and yet potentially nightmarish. It is just there, partially lost in the shadows as its form dissolves back into the colour tones of the tree and clouds. While her work has a sense of an Australian gothic to it, the very stillness of the imagery is more dreamlike and inexplicable than horrible or threatening.

Australian painting has often flirted with the gothic, as has literature and film. It seems to be a cultural 'other' to our prevalent obsession with comedy and humour. In Hearman's paintings a sense of a 'paraphysical', somewhere between the metaphysical and the paranormal, is achieved through these displacements of scale and juxtapositions of subject matter. In her gently surreal imagery the artist's subconscious finds an agency in our everyday world.




Media category


Materials used

oil on masonite


68.5 x 91.0 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of Dr Colin and Mrs Elizabeth Laverty 2005


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Louise Hearman

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 1 publication


Donna Brett, Contemporary: Art Gallery of New South Wales Contemporary Collection, 'Expression and the figure', pg.108-153, Sydney, 2006, 132, 133 (colour illus.).