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date: 12 November 2019

French, Leonardlocked

(b Brunswick, Melbourne, Oct 10, 1928).
  • Christine Clark

Extract

(b Brunswick, Melbourne, Oct 10, 1928).

Australian painter and designer. With encouragement from Victor Greenhalgh, he attended evening classes at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology from 1944 to 1947. He studied from 1949 to 1951 in England, Belgium and Ireland where his interest in Celtic art increased. With the aid of a travelling scholarship in 1960–61, he studied the Eastern art of Asia, and in 1965 went to the USA on the Harkness Fellowship. His travels were often responsible for his series’ themes. Literary images and social injustices were frequently used, as in Iliad (1952), Edmund Campion series (1963), the Death of a Revolution (on South America, 1974–6), and South African-inspired works in the mid-1980s. French carefully constructed his images which are based on formal patterns and shapes, for example in Death and Transfiguration (1957; Melbourne, Joseph Brown Gal.). Using simple, easily recognizable symbols, he portrayed a powerful bluntness and honesty. After studying enamelling techniques in the 1960s, French’s paintings became known for their thick glowing layers of enamel on different textual levels, at times with gold leaf added. Apart from paintings and murals, he was known for his stained glass projects, mosaics, tapestries, etchings and lithographs. He was commissioned by the ...

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