From a family of artists and artisans, Boyd was a ceramicist, printmaker and draughtsman as well as a prolific painter. His work is characterised by its personal expressiveness. His imagery was drawn not just from his own extraordinary imagination, but also from historical and mythological themes, which he relocated in the Australian environment. During the early 1940s, his art changed from poetic, light-filled landscapes and portraits to images of urban society and a darker vision of destruction and despair, reflecting his response to the Second World War. This, in turn, led to a series in the late 1940s that took inspiration from the Bible, the first of his works to receive a serious critical response.
Boyd lived in England from 1951 to 1971. After returning to Australia, he bought a property at Bundanon, NSW, which is now a public arts centre.
The expulsion 1947-48
Based on the Old Testament story of Adam and Eve being expelled from the Garden of Eden, this is the last in a cycle of work by Boyd on biblical themes. The figures in the painting relate closely to a fresco by 15th-century Italian painter Masaccio, but Boyd has placed them in an Australian setting that is wild and primal.
One of many Boyd works on the theme of lovers, The expulsion also depicts his concern for couples denied privacy – a situation he experienced when courting his future wife after his conscription into the army. ‘I see lovers as victims,’ he said. ‘They suffer from being unprivate, watched. Love becomes guilt because it is frustrated.’
- View The expulsion in the collection
A closely related drawing by Boyd is also in the Gallery’s collection.