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 John De Burgh Perceval  (1923 - 2000)

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Lived/Active: Australia      Known for: painting and sculpture

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Ad Code: 2
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from Auction House Records.
Scudding Swans
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Menzies (formerly Deutscher-Menzies) Sydney:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Perceval's biography reads as a who's who of Australian Modernism; exhibiting as a nineteen year old with artists such as Tucker, Nolan, Vassilieff and Pugh, continuing on to become a member of the Angry Penguins group and marrying into the Boyd family.  Perceval is an important contributor within a revolutionary period of Australian art history and an artist whose work reflects an unforgettable period of artistic experimentation.  

After a five-year hiatus in the 1950s, (while he was working in ceramics) the artist emerged with a fresh approach to painting and exhibited at the newly opened Australian Galleries in Melbourne.  Perceval's foray into landscape in the mid 1950s was the artist's first systematic experimentation with the landscape genre and as a result of a much lighter and more delicate palette he created a very joyous period of work.  The combination of a sparkling show at an important new gallery that focused on promoting the symbiosis of business and the fine arts produced a good result for all.  His experimentation with a more accessible subject matter was highly successful for the artist and collectors alike. The success of the exhibition resulted in a period of confidence and Perceval returned to the studio encouraged to push his new ideas further.  It was a period of hard and rewarding work.  He began to travel further and experience new landscapes; it was these landscapes that became some of his greatest masterpieces.

The improvement in Perceval's finances allowed the artist to buy a Volkswagen which he used to explore pockets of suburban Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay. Williamstown became a major site of inspiration.  Perceval's landscapes of the port as well as paintings of Oakleigh, Bayswater and Gaffney's Creek were characterized by sections of pure, brilliant color.  He revisited the accents of blue and gold so typical of the Heidelberg School by artists such as Conder and Streeton.

Goat in a Bayswater Landscape 1956 is a pre-cursor to the artist's best period.  Perceval returned to the goat motif a number of times in 1956 including Wild Goats at Gaffney's Creek and Goat in a Cabbage Patch (Oakleigh).  Perceval's use of the goat is intriguing; the animal instils a humorous element and yet perhaps it has a more substantial meaning. Vincent van Gogh's influence on Perceval's art is well documented and perhaps the artist's goat and cabbage patch should be seen as an act of homage to Van Gogh's crows and cornfields.

The artist's Volkswagen which can be seen in Beetle Bomb Crossing Bridge 1955 facilitated a shift from studio to plein air practice and spawned a prolific period. The resulting year was a defining moment for the artist, a precursor to the great things to come in the following decade, in particular the creation of the Williamstown works for which the artist has been immortalised.

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