An image of The fish stealer

John Passmore

(Australia 04 Feb 1904 – 09 Oct 1984)

The fish stealer

Not on display
Further information

"By the end of 1953 Passmore's gestures were getting broader. His paint, no longer applied in crisp washes of green, thickened. Though by no means aggressive, it assumed a distinct physicality. Beneath the surface, the influence of Tintoretto was beginning to emerge. Chiaroscuro, much abstracted, appeared. Such are the more obvious characteristics of a series of paintings of boys and fishermen on wharves, piers, and beaches. These images were projected with the same meditative totality as his still-lifes. The quarrelling figures in 'Fish stealer', or the informal yet energetic grouping of 'If you don't believe me ask the old bloke', do not read as human dramas. Fishermen, air, pier, and water are all concretions of the same nameless substance, subtly knit together. Postures are deliberately clumsy and angular, the bodies are lumpish. Passmore's line, with muffled eloquence, runs forward, stops, thickens, gropes, turns a corner, and fades again. The awkward figures repeat the ungraceful carriage of most Australians: more important, however, their gawkiness is a deliberate guard against too florid or fluent a gesture of the brush."

Robert Hughes, 'The Art of Australia', Penguin, 1966

oil on hardboard
41.0 x 85.0 cm board; 58.5 x 102.0 x 2.3 cm
Signature & date

Signed l.r., oil "JP".

Bequest of Carlyle Greenwell 1961
Accession number
© John Passmore Museum of Art