Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sidney Nolan. Ned Kelly Series at IMMA Dublin 

Australian artist Sidney Nolan painted his Ned Kelly Series of paintings between 1946 and 1947. The paintings numbering 27 in total depict the life and times of the infamous Irish Australian outlaw Ned Kelly. Accompanied by his fellow gang members Ned Kelly is portrayed wearing a black suit of armour and accompanying distinctive helmet.
On first regarding the paintings they may seem almost cartoonish. The colour of Kelly’s armour is in contrast to the vivid depictions of the wild Australian bush. Be warned however humour was the furthest thing from the painters mind. For Nolan the outlaw Ned Kelly stands for the rugged individual striking out against the establishment. Kelly is the warrior chief going into combat against the occupiers.
The paintings each of which is highly stylised, contain vivid colours which makes them the perfect prism from which to view the Australian outback. Up to this artists had struggle to depict their native  countryside and had resorted to using formal European methods which in fact were considered inadequate. 
In time Nolan’s rendering of Ned Kelly dressed in a suit of metal, complete with helmet would catapult him onto the world stage. The image of Ned Kelly outlaw battling the dark forces of imperial oppression would become part of Australian national consciousness.
Sidney Nolan, Ned Kelly Series runs in the Irish Museum of Modern Art until 27th of January 2013.


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