John Olsen (born 1928) Holiday by the Sea, The Blue Bottles Arrive, 1993
Lot 54
John Olsen
(born 1928)
Holiday by the Sea, The Blue Bottles Arrive, 1993
Sold for AU$ 268,400 (US$ 205,746) inc. premium

Lot Details
John Olsen (born 1928)
Holiday by the Sea, The Blue Bottles Arrive, 1993
signed and dated lower left: 'John Olsen / 93'; signed, dated and inscribed on stretcher bar verso 'Holiday by the Sea - The blue bottles arrive John Olsen 93'
oil on canvas
199.0 x 183.0cm (78 3/8 x 72 1/16in).

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE
    Philip Bacon Gallery, Brisbane
    Private collection, Sydney

    EXHIBITED
    John Olsen Recent Works, Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane, 12 September - 7 October 1995, cat. 1


    In 1935, at the age of 7, John Olsen and his family relocated to Sydney, where he roamed the beaches around his Bondi home observing the marine life and creatures that had washed ashore. These deep visual memories have provided an enduring wellspring of inspiration which continue to influence his subjects to this day.

    Reminiscing of his early childhood 'He says: "There is a period in summer where the beaches are invaded by blue bottles, thousands of them. At time parts of the beaches are closed and at low tide the blue bottles become stranded on the beach. When we were children what fun it was to pop their bubble heads with our feet. The blue bottle tentacles lay on the sand around us where we played on the beach. It was as if the sea and everything else was connected".

    'Olsen's challenge while painting this subject was to achieve that linkage or unity, between the various elements that he already recognised as a child while participating in the total biological drama of what's happening around him on the beach. Just as everything in life is linked, it is important to Olsen that everything is linked in a painting. Olsen believes that artists should provide the viewer with sufficient recognisable clues to activate the imagination and stimulate them to look deeper into the work. 'Some people are bamboozled by abstraction because they cannot find a link to their own lives. So, by giving them something not necessarily realistic, but something identifiable, they can be drawn into the work and immediately feel empathy with it'.1

    Having developed an immediately recognisable pictorial language, Olsen's Holiday by the Sea, The Blue Bottles Arrive, embodies this notion of viewer connection. Essentially abstract in composition, Olsen provides the viewer with spontaneous glimpses of thriving life in the shallows teeming with vibrant sea creatures. The work's monumentality engages all the senses, transporting the viewer to the Australian seaside.

    1. John Olsen, Jenny Zimmer and Ken Magregor, John Olsen: Journeys into the "You Beaut Country", Macmillan Art, Melbourne, 2007, p. 310
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