An image of Red ochre

John Passmore

(Australia 04 Feb 1904 – 09 Oct 1984)

Red ochre

Not on display
Further information

It was in the middle of the 1950s that Passmore began to move from the figurative motifs that had previously occupied him into wholly abstract forms. His participation in the landmark exhibition 'Direction I', held in Sydney in 1956 and which included works by John Olsen, William Rose, Eric Smith and Robert Klippel - all past students of Passmore - heralded his commitment to 'the act of painting as a form of meditation in itself'. Speaking many years later about Olsen, Passmore said:
"Olsen was tenacious and a very good thinker ... he said a totally new way of seeing things had taken over ... it's got a completely new lot of rules now ... you are not looking at nature at all. You are looking at a theory about painting. What one does is a painting. It is not nature at all. He seized on that ... I had my old way and Olsen's new way, and for a while they did get mixed up with one another."

Reviewing Passmore's exhibition at Terry Clune gallery, where 'Red ochre' was first shown, in March 1960 shortly before his departure for Europe, James Gleeson wrote:
"... there is a kind of apprehension in his work. He paints as though all his senses were extended to their fullest range of receptivity in an effort to understand the reasons for this apprehension. Vulnerability has given him an extraordinary sensitivity and has made him into one of the most important painters this country has yet produced."

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000

Place of origin
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
oil on hardboard
107.0 x 122.0 cm
Signature & date

Signed l.r., oil "JP". Not dated.

A.H. Smith Bequest Fund 1960
Accession number
© John Passmore Museum of Art