Newsletter Archives

July 2014

Robert Dickerson at 90

The Milestone Exhibition: Five Decades in the Making

8 July - 2 August

Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane

View the exhibition here

Philip Bacon Galleries presents a major new solo survey of works by iconic Australian artist Robert Dickerson featuring a diverse and insightful selection of works spanning five decades. Running 8 July to 2 August 2014, this timely exhibition coincides with the artist’s 90th birthday, and showcases the work that’s made him a legendary artistic figure in Australian art history.

The Brisbane exhibition also celebrates one of the longest running partnerships in the Australian art world. The 40th anniversary of the Philip Bacon Gallery this year also marks 40 years of representation of Dickerson by the gallery. The Philip Bacon Gallery opened in 1974 with the encouragement of Dickerson, along with artists Margaret Olley and Charles Blackman.

This exhibition celebrates a rare and productive a partnership between two Australian art world veterans, and an enduring friendship which has stood the test of times and weathered major industry changes. One of the most ambitious recent solo surveys of work by Dickerson, this milestone exhibition features a fascinating collection which stretches from the present day back to 1964. The selection provide new insights into the life and work of this legendary artist.

Among the works featured: the first painting ever painting exhibited by the artist at Phillip Bacon Galleries, which featured in the Gallery’s inaugural exhibition in 1974 and has been restored especially for this exhibition. It will sit alongside several new paintings and drawings from the past decade, including multiple works which have never previously been on public display.

With an artistic career dating back to the 1950s, Dickerson has made an extraordinarily significant contribution to the cannon of Australian art history. Close friend and Professor at the Australian National University, Dr. Sasha Grishin, writes of Dickerson, ‘Robert Dickerson is a unique phenomenon on the Australian art scene. A self-taught maverick artist, idiosyncratic and fiercely independent, his images of displaced people, sad clowns, melancholy children, sportsmen and animals, strike a familiar chord in the Australian psyche.’

Born in Sydney in 1924, Robert Dickerson was the son of a tinsmith and grew up against a backdrop of hardship in the Great Depression of the 1930s. From an early age, he was a factory worker,fashioning tin funnels and scoops.I Any time the tools were downed, Dickerson would hurry to Sydney’s major museums to draw and study the greats of the art world. At the age of 14 Dickerson left school and, two years later, ran away with a professional boxing troupe, touring Australia until the age of 18, when he joined the the R.A.A.F. for World War II. Until that point, painting was still a 'spare time' occupation. But in the jungles of Borneo, after the war was over, Dickerson suddenly found the time needed to develop his passion. He really began to draw and paint, with the bright-eyed children of Borneo his subjects. He used any available material - charcoal, plywood, whitewash, even bootpolish.

On his return to Australia, Dickerson took up factory jobs, and for the next ten years he worked in labouring jobs, and painted at weekends. However, in 1956, his focus would change as he sold his first painting to the National Gallery of Victoria. After a delayed start, his trajectory into the art world was incredibly swift. In 1957, after winning an Australian Woman’s Weekly competition he was for the first time ableto buy art supplies and within three years he was working as a full time artist.

In 1959 he joined Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd and John Molvig, to form the Antipodeans. Figurative artists determined to make a statement opposing abstractionism in their day, their influence was instrumental in shaping Australian art history. He remains one of most influential painters living and working in Australia today. He has presented close to 100 solo survey exhibitions across Australia and around the world and won countless art prizes internationally. His work is held in almost every major public and private collection across the country.

Today Dickerson works from his studio in Nowra on the Shoalhaven River, living between his regional oasis and Sydney and he continues to paints full-time.


Media Contact: Gabrielle Wilson, [art]iculate,, 0433 972 915 or Kym Elphinstone, [art]iculate,, 0421 106 139.