Brett Whiteley's imagination was deeply stimulated by environments most familiar to him in Australia, and overseas. This exhibition celebrates moments of time in such places, which the artist captured with great skill - moments that also seemed to summarise the essences of the seasons and certain times of day.
His childhood experiences in and around Sydney Harbour would later lead to the magnificent Lavender Bay paintings in the 1970s, such as Big Orange, saturated by the sun on the water, with sweeping gestural lines and elemental shapes suggesting boats bathed in late afternoon sunlight. The horizon line lost to the edge allows the eye to soak in the vast field of colour.
His early formative education at Scots College in Bathurst set Whiteley on a path of new worlds to explore; the distinctive seasons set upon this place let Whiteley see the poplars in winter shimmer, the rivers meander and the birds rest and shelter.
Sensuality surged forth in his landscapes and provided a unique and intimate window into his vision. These images would later be manifested by Whiteley in charcoal, oil paint, collage and mangrove wood; and in one of his late works, Autumn (near Bathurst) - Japanese Autumn 1987-88, his fusion of Australian landscape with an Asian aesthetic still speaks to us in a contemporary language.
Included in the exhibition are intimate studies and sketches of birds, rocks, waves and rivers in all seasons alongside the majestic panoramic vistas which inspired Whiteley throughout his life, and works depicting environments from his travels, such as delicate studies of villages in Spain.
However, in his last years Whiteley focused on the urban coastal landscape with particular passion. Always seduced by place, he encapsulated visions of beach culture with many vignettes, vistas and panoramas.
The sunny frangipanis of Byron Bay gardens are emblematic of the gorgeous, golden stretch nearby that is Wattegoes Beach. The last painting Whiteley left unfinished in his studio, due to his untimely death, was a multi-panelled work on Bondi Beach, a legacy of the process and development of his extraordinary observation skill of execution.