Shui (Water Wader) 1978-79 signed 'Brett Whiteley' lower right oil and mixed media on board 106.0 x 82.0cm (41 3/4 x 32 5/16in).
PROVENANCE Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney Private collection, Sydney Eva Breuer Art Dealer, Sydney Private collection, Sydney
EXHIBITED Birds & Animals, Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney, 10 April - 5 May 1979, cat. 16 (illus)
"People ask me 'why paint birds?' and I look at them dumbfounded! I've got no answer, except that they are the most beautiful creatures" Brett Whiteley1
Shui (Water Wader) 1978-79 was painted during a remarkable five-year period during which Whiteley won the illustrious Archibald Prize together with the Sulman Prize (each twice in 1976 & 1978) as well as the Wynne Prize (twice in 1977 & 1978), a remarkable achievement and a testament to his versatility and singular vision as an artist across such a diverse range of genres. This was a wonderfully successful period for Whiteley professionally, and his self-assurance as an artist certainly impacts on his approach to technique and theme.
Shui (Water Wader) explores a theme that Whiteley pursued during the late sixties, seventies and eighties through a series of paintings depicting birds. Whiteley's bird paintings are some of the acclaimed and commercially successful within his oeuvre. In fact three of Whiteley's most memorable solo exhibitions explored the theme of birds in 1979, 1983 and 1988.
Shui (Water Wader) owes much of its stylistic ingenuity to Whiteley's developing interested in the aesthetics and ideology of the Orient, which for the most part supported his interest in simplicity of design and the search for peace and tranquility. His exposure to Asian art through his travels and through the growing appreciation among Australian artists of the time, effectively widened Whiteley's visual vocabulary with extraordinary results.
1 Animals and Birds [Press Release], Art Gallery of NSW Press Office, 2002, np