An image of Dylan's country

John Olsen

(Australia, England, Spain, Portugal 21 Jan 1928 – )

Dylan's country

Not on display
Further information

Inspired by the Welsh writer Dylan Thomas, Olsen embarked on a series of works in 1957, from his studio in Ibiza, Spain, which strongly related to Thomas' play 'Under Milk Wood'. Olsen saw the possibility of creating a total impression of place through suggestion and an evocation of mood and atmosphere, which would allow for an imaginative response by the viewer.

In an introduction to his 1958 exhibition held at Macquarie Galleries in Sydney, he wrote:
"... the landscapes which have fascinated me more recently ... belong to my 'Seaport' series and I feel in paintings like 'Dylan's country' that one gets a feeling of landscape as a totality as opposed to the Renaissance ideal 'here I stand; where I look is landscape'. This is too visual, and its basic flaw is that it does not inhabit the landscape. Questions come to my mind; What is it like to get a totality of the Riverina, the Dead Heart and other parts of our wonderful landscape - to travel through, to feel the rise and fall of hill and plain, to circumvent, to come back where I have been before: I cannot help thinking of Klee's lead when he said: 'The line goes for a holiday'."

The idea of taking the line on an imaginary journey through a landscape, of experiencing nature and observing it at once from high above and microscopically, have remained vital elements of Olsen's work.

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000

Place of origin
oil on canvas
92.0 x 72.5 cm stretcher; 112.2 x 93.0 x 6.5 cm frame
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Purchased 1958
Accession number