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Original treatment of biblical themes
Many people will be horrified by the Blake Prixe pictures now on view at the National Gallery.
The Blake Prize was founded several years ago
by a small group of earnest enthusiasts with the object of raising the standard of religious are by offering an incentive to artists to devote some at tention to religious sub jects. This effort has resulted in the production of many original and interesting paintings, and of the 300 works submitted this year 84 were shown in Sydney last month. From that exhibition 16 have been selected for ex hibition here, including the three prize pictures and one from last year's entries.
In general, the artists seemed to have confined their concepts to present day versions of the Gospel narratives rather than to have sought inspiration from the essentially mystical, esoteric, and more
universal concepts of Blake's genius. Some of the pictures In the recent Indian exhibi tion were much more in the spirit of the Blake tradition than these Palestinian incidents seen through modern Western eyes. Nevertheless, they are certainly arresting if some what disturbing to the cherished dreams of orthodox minds.
Louis Kahan's powerful painting 'The Flight to Egypt,' for example, shows the Holy Family rushing through the Sinai Desert —in a jeep. To me the works are more interesting as paint ings than as presentations of either mystical ideas or historical incidents. Michael Shannon's 'Madonna and Child' is perhaps the most appeal ing, while as designs well adaptable for ecclesiastical purposes the two apostle studies by Michael Kmit suggest the glowing colors of stained glass.
Sickert link Paul Haefliger's 'Christ and the City' contains a good idea, but hardly suc ceeds in presenting it to best advantage. Jacqueline Hick and Justin O'Brien have at least had the stimulus of Richard Sickert's famous 'The Raising of Lazarus'; and the contributions of Constance Stokes and John Passmore have
strong art interest. One feels, however, that Sydney Nolan's 'Tempta- tion of St. Anthony' is planned more to startle than to evoke any re sponse of a religious character.
Fine display of watercolors John C. Goodchild's beautiful exhibition of travel pictures is quite the best of its kind seen here, for a long time. It will emphatically appeal to most people.
This artist has travelled afar and observed with discernment, making the fullest use of his unique opportunities and remark able talent. His English landscapes convey the very spirit of that fair country. 'The Thames at Chis wick,' 'Round Pond, Kensington Gardens,' and 'The Wye' are typical of many lovely pictures that will evoke the wander lust; while the less fami liar beauties of Venice, San Francisco, Fiji, and New Zealand will appeal with equal certainty by their newer charm. Flinders Ranges, Kan garoo Island, and Outer Harbor bring out the aesthetic content of these dear familiar scenes as only the vision of the richly gifted artist can evoke it.
Three painters from the West Three Perth painters are associated in an unusual exhibition at John Mar tin's gallery. Audrey Greenhalgh's forceful and decorative
sea pictures include two effective wreck composi tions, a very appealing 'Sand Dune in Winter,' and some powerful sea scapes. Of greater interest is the work of Guy Grey Smith, whose semi-abstract design cf 'Kangaroo Paws,' and he well composed 'Summer Still life' give hints of a bright future. The work of Elizabeth Blair Barber suffers by comparison, being some what immature and un decisive. Her subjects are drawn largely from the big timber country.