Historical information

Gareth SAMSOM (19 November 1939- ) Born Melbourne Sansom describes a desire to constantly surprise and challenge himself as an artist. He had his first exhibition in 1959. His paintings of the 1960s were characterised by a distorted use of line, shape and colour and were influenced by abstract expressionism, Francis Bacon and Sidney Nolan. Over time, his work has also drawn on punk, dada, Basquiat, T.S. Eliot, urban graffiti, classical Greek philosophy and art theory across a variety of media ranging from drawing, printmaking and collage to photomontage and photography. Sansom lectured in Art at the Ballarat Teachers' college, and was appointed Head of Painting at the Victorian College of the Arts from 1977-1985, and Dean School of Art at the Victorian College of the Arts from 1986-1991. He was artist-in-residence at the University of Melbourne in 1985, which was when he resumed his full-time painting practice with a series of large works on canvas. The Federation University Art Collection features over 1000 works and was listed as a 'Ballarat Treasure' in 2007.

Physical description

'Looking for God in Abstract Art 2' is a play on the debate over the respective virtues of abstraction and figuration that has preoccupied artists and critics for more than a century. Sanson has always walked a wobbly line between the two, adroitly avoiding falling headlong into either camp. It is also a gentle dig at the pretensions to higher spiritual meaning in abstract art. In the centre are two photographs, one of rubber masks and the other of the artist in a lurid fright wig and mask and using a spray can like a young tagger. These images, where the artist wears a mask and teeters on bright red platforms, are wonderfully ludicrous send-ups of the 'fine art' of painting. (Geoff Wallis from 'Gareth Sansom: Alternative Person", Art Gallery of Ballarat, 2012) This work was exhibited and published in the catalogue of the exhibition 'Gareth Sansom: Alternative Person' at the Art Gallery of Ballarat in 2012 item.