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The Poetic Eye
1 December 2007 - 6 April 2008
Brett Whiteley Studio, 2 Raper Street, Surry Hills

Tree blossom

Brett Whiteley was inspired by a number of artists, poets, musicians and writers throughout his life. The exhibition Poetic Eye includes some 50 poetically and musically activated Whiteley works together with the artist’s magnum opus, Alchemy, 18 panels of combined mural and self portrait painted in 1972-73. 

The title Alchemy derives from a Renaissance idea essentially connected with the potential of changing base metal lead into gold. For alchemists, it alluded to a profound metaphoric relationship between body and soul. Whiteley, like Flemish artist Hieronymus Bosch and French poet and adventurer, Arthur Rimbaud, was fascinated by this philosophy. The quest is the transmutation of Self, Whiteley noted.

While Bosch and Rimbaud were very strong references for Whiteley, musicians, writers and poets also had a significant influence on him. He could see a transformative process at work in their charismatic personas and the strength of their performance. The power of their ability to entrance mass audiences and cultivate adoration intrigued the artist.

Alchemy was inspired by a range of forces from French symbolist poetry to Surrealism to the political events of the day. Whiteley allowed these to merge, fuse and clash in images where dreams seem to metamorphosise into juxtaposing battles on micro and macro scales.

Whiteley has explored a range of emotionally altered states such as desire, empathy, passion and joy that deliver powerful and highly charged expressions of transcendence. This exhibition attempts to share this extraordinary quest and vision.

The Brett Whiteley Studio is managed by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

JP Morgan 

Free admission made possible by JPMorgan



On view:1 December 2007 - 6 April 2008
Brett Whiteley Studio
2 Raper Street, Surry Hills
Telephone:(02) 9225 1744 or (02) 9225 1881
Hours:Saturdays & Sundays only, 10am to 4pm
Media Information and Interviews:Claire Martin
Telephone (02) 9225 1734 or 0414 437 588

IMAGE CREDIT: Brett Whiteley The blossom tree, 1971-72, oil, silk flowers, branch, wood, canvas, nails and electricity on board © Whiteley Estate