LRG x GPAC: Satellite Exhibition

LRG x GPAC: Satellite Exhibition

Looking Back
John Mutsaers

Level 1 – Gippsland Performing Arts Centre, Traralgon
12 August – 15 October 2023


John Mutsaers is an artist based in Inverloch whose professional art practice spans 40 years. To celebrate this milestone in John’s career, LRG x GPAC present this themed exhibition titled Looking Back, which features a new body of work by John where he has drawn inspiration from his childhood. John was born in Eindenhoven, Nederland 1942, and in this series of work he references his life at aged twelve when he was living in Brabant, Nederland. In the twelve paintings and twelve drawings on exhibition, John depicts boys engaging in different activities and games, as well as different toys, objects and animals that are reminiscent of typical interests and hobbies of boys at the time.

Having often worked with writers and musicians intersecting and adding to the themes explored in his paintings, John has invited twelve writers to respond to the works in Looking Back. The writers attended a creative writing workshop where they were matched with a painting, a drawing and a cue card with a single verb. They were then asked to write a response of up to 1000 words. Read the written pieces corresponding to John’s work below.

Writers: Joyce Agee, Karen Bateman, Jillian Durance, Geoff Ellis, Kit Fennessy, Madeline Gilles, Jeannie Haughton, Laurie Martin, Richard Parkinson, Ian Robinson, Brook Tayla, Clair Williams.

The Looking Back project was run in conjunction with the Bass Coast Prize for Non-Fiction.


About the artist:

His earliest inspiration came from his kindergarten teacher, who pinned his drawing of a boy turning on a garden tap. In those days, it was unheard of to post students’ work on the classroom wall. It had such an impact that 77 years later, John can still produce this drawing. His mother’s encouragement and some artist uncles and cousins from both sides of his family gave him the sense that making art was normal. As a boy, the paintings of Jan Steen, Jan Vermeer, Vincent van Gogh and Kees Bol, who lived nearby, inspired John’s art.

John migrated to Australia in 1956, where he attended several summer schools at the National Gallery of Victoria with artists Ian Bow and Clifton Pugh, who both influenced his early work.

John also spent four years under the tutelage of master painter John Balmain who taught him the value of light and tone. His work is in public, corporate and private collections worldwide, including Holland, England, Ireland, USA, China, Canada and Australia.

Although painting is John’s primary discipline, he also creates sculpture. His first international success was the sale of a copper and iron sculpture based on C.J. Dennis’ poem “The Sentimental Bloke” in New York. His six 3-meter-high 2½-ton stone and steel sculptures, “Forks in Spuds”, were a featured exhibition in Federation Square Melbourne in 2008 and are now located on the Princes Highway near Trafalgar, Victoria. The sculptures responded to the United Nations’ call to end world hunger.

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