The Successful Touchdown
- James Gleeson
- The Successful Touchdown
- oil on canvas
- 172 x 230 cm
signed lower right: Gleeson '90
verso: The Successful Touchdown
- Stock Number
Private collection, Melbourne
Annual Collectors' Exhibition 2002, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, 1 Nov - 14 Dec 2002, cat. no. 45
Annual Collectors' Exhibition 2002, in partnership with Holmes a Court Gallery, Perth, 20 Sept - 20 Oct 2002, cat. no. 45
Collectors' Exhibition 2017, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, 3 June - 29 July 2017.
James Gleeson’s The Successful Touchdown of 1990 is a rare hallmark work from a period that he considered to be his best. 1
Its optical scope, vast drama and visual impact are very closely related to his most significant works in noteworthy public and private collections: Lapsed Shadows Recycled to a Capable Coast of 1988 in the Art Gallery of New South Wales; The Opening Gate of 1989 in the Colin and Liz Laverty Collection; The Dance of 1989 in the James Fairfax Collection; The Darkening Stageof 1991 in the National Gallery of Victoria and The Secret Heart of the Headland of 1991 in the National Gallery of Australia. Gleeson’s The Successful Touchdown of 1990 sits squarely within the compass of these magisterial years.
Gleeson’s The Successful Touchdown presents a Rorschach-like horizontally split field of vision within which Gleeson has imagined a large mass of flesh-like deformities seeming to descend upon or hang over a desolate tributary or seascape. The impressive visual impact of this brooding painting is such that it confronts one like the dark clouds of an approaching storm. Of course, given his modest nature, Gleeson was characteristically circumspect - in talking of this pivotal period he says:
It was done with the idea of the Sunshine Coast, where I used to spend the Summer holidays ... I wanted to show how threatening forms can be really quite beautiful ... I was very interested in negative shapes in black and contrasting them with positive, three dimensional shapes, forms, organic forms ... 4.
A palpable cosmic threat haunts the painting’s billowing mutant forms and unavoidable feelings of unease spill into a denuded marine landscape, except for one delicately painted headland citadel and township. One disquieting thought pervades the whole painting: a strange Faustian pact has gone wrong and mutant winged menace threatens all.
This is an extract from the Collectors' Exhibition 2017 essay by Ken Wach.
© Gleeson O'Keefe Foundation