Clarice Beckett: The present moment at AGSA


Adelaide, Australia: The Art Gallery of South Australia will present the most comprehensive
retrospective ever staged of Clarice Beckett, one of Australia’s most enigmatic and admired
modernist painters. Clarice Beckett: The present moment, will see nearly 130 works by the
artist on display as part of the 2021 Adelaide Festival in February 2021.
Associated with a legendary story of rediscovery, Clarice Beckett is today celebrated for her
ethereal, atmospheric landscape paintings that capture the commonplace. In 1935 Clarice
Beckett died at the age of forty-eight, and for the next thirty-five years her work vanished from
art history before being rescued by Dr Rosalind Hollinrake. Hollinrake salvaged 369 of the
artist’s neglected canvases from a remote, open-sided shed in rural Victoria. Hollinrake’s
extensive research and promotion led to Beckett’s recognition as a major force in Australian
The present moment includes many of the salvaged paintings, as well as her master works
drawn from national public collections as well as private collections including Russell Crowe
and Ben Quilty. Misunderstood in her lifetime, The present moment presents Beckett as a
visionary mystic that saw nature as all powerful and as an artist driven by spiritual impulses
rather than worldly success.

Her timeless and incidental everyday scenes have been curated to chart the chronology of
one single day. The present moment exhibition will take visitors on a sensory journey from the
first breath of sunrise, through to the hush of sunset and finally a return into the enveloping
mists of nightfall.
AGSA Curator of Australian Art Tracey Lock says, ‘Audiences experience an affinity with the
art of Clarice Beckett. On one level Beckett represents the triumph of the spirit over adversity
and certainly the ideal of an artist driven by something beyond worldly success. On a deeper
level they sense a profound humanity, something that has united the world in such adversity
over the past year.
‘There is a certain magnetism to her paintings: an experiential quality of sound, sight or feeling
that transcends language. Enveloped in diffused light and exuding peacefulness, her paintings
invite a sense of stillness that points to a healing, spiritual quality.’
AGSA Director Rhana Devenport ONZM says, ‘The Art Gallery of South Australia is thrilled to
stage this important exhibition which was initiated following the significant acquisition of 21
paintings by Clarice Beckett early in 2020, made possible thanks to the extraordinary
generosity of Alastair Hunter OAM.’

Tickets for this major exhibition are currently on sale.

Source= AGCA media release, 27 January 2021.

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