Author(s): Christopher Heathcote
Russell Drysdale: Defining the modern Australian landscape takes a fresh look at one of the nation's major modern artists, surveying Drysdale's approach to landscape across painting, drawing and photography. Using original research, Christopher Heathcote highlights what the artist saw as urgent issues facing Australia mid-century, revealing the underpinning symbolism of Drysdale's outback imagery. Drysdale's desert scenes are deceptive. Not only do his works directly confront problems in land management and the effects of drought and environmental degradation, we see also images revealing the plight of Australian soldiers in the Second World War, and others referring to the aftermath of the Atomic cataclysm. Drysdale shows deep concern for Aboriginal peoples, positioning Indigenous figures within his paintings to convey his distress at their dispossession. This book also explores Drysdale's efforts to blend landscape painting with surrealism, showcasing many works and photographs connected to his journeys into the Australian interior. Revealing enduring questions about land and environment, Russell Drysdale: Defining the modern Australian landscape confirms Drysdale as a man ahead of his time. Through visual art, he challenged established perceptions of the national landscape.