A realist painter of modern urban life, John Brack emerged during the 1950s in Melbourne as an artist of singular originality and independence. His highly cerebral, smooth and hard-edged painting style was unique in the context of both the expressive figuration of Melbourne contemporaries such as Arthur Boyd and Albert Tucker, and the rapid growth of abstraction in his time.
The subjects of his paintings range from weddings, ballroom dancers and gymnasts to shop window displays and starkly confronting nudes.Contrary to the traditions of Western art, this work presents the nude as sexless and alienated from the viewer. The impersonal nature of Brack’s nude is heightened by the stylisation of the figure, which reduces individual features to classically architectonic forms. Nonetheless, Brack viewed his subject with sympathy, understanding and compassion.
Throughout his career, Brack lectured and wrote widely on modern art. Major exhibitions of his work have been organised by the RoyalMelbourne Institute of Technology Gallery and the Australian National University in 1977, and by Monash University Gallery in 1981. The National Gallery of Victoria has held retrospectives of his work in 1987 and in 2009.