Auguste's Blackman's 'Women 2020' | Essay
Auguste Blackman was born into a Wonderland. His father, renowned Australian artist Charles Blackman, was amid his acclaimed Alice in Wonderland series inspired by his wife Barbara. An esteemed poet, writer and advocate, Barbara was amidst her own transition at the time – the loss of vision. From Charles, Auguste inherited a lust for painting and admiration for the femina and from Barbara he uncovered a new way of seeing.
In ‘Women 2020’ - an expansive new portrait series of women - Auguste unites his paternal and maternal sides. Conceived in the thick of lockdown, these life drawings were animated in the studio. Auguste allowed the paintbrush to lead, uncovering lines that "‘map the trials’ women endure”. An advocate for spontaneity over exactness, Auguste bore his father’s advice in mind: “just keep working... until something takes hold”.
Much of art history orbits around the femina. From Andy Warhol’s glitzy Marilyn Monroe’s to Picasso’s Cubist busts, Matisse’s blissful beauties and even the Mona Lisa, artists are enamoured by the female visage. Where Auguste diverges however, is what he finds fascinating in women. These portraits are not mere evocations of beauty, but odes to the feminine lifeforce.
‘Women 2020’ is dedicated to Barbara Blackman. “My mother’s blindness has guided me from birth” Auguste reflects, “Her touch, her voice, her counsel have been there to sound out my life.” Indeed, Barbara’s legacy extends from her family to touch Australia’s cultural life at large. Not only Charles’s muse (she titled most of his work), Barbara is poet, author, columnist, librettist, radio-producer and oral historian for the Australian National Library. When Auguste recites his poetry, he asks the audience to close their eyes to activate their imagination. “My mother taught me to see through closed eyes”.
When asked which women inspire him, Auguste cites his “gorgeous wife Andrea” and their daughters. ‘Women’ is an ode to these individuals and womankind at large, a reflection of Auguste’s upbringing shepherded by a formidable woman and the feminine spirit, so vital as it is in times of hardship. “It is her love in all things” muses Auguste, “the world will only succeed with women at the helm… against all odds she will prevail”.
Discover the full 'Women 2020' collection here.