Often seen as a impassive observer, John Brack’s Ballroom Series represented a shift in this attitude. Despite obvious talent, Brack did not become a full-time artist until his early forties - years after conceiving 5 O’Clock Collins Street. Relieved of his teaching duties, the Ballroom Series declared Brack’s artistic freedom. In works like Latin American Grand Final, we encounter him in the throes of a newfound zeal for life.
In 1967, the year before becoming a full-time artist, Brack attended the World Ballroom Dancing Competition in Melbourne. At the cusp of his own major career shift, he was struck by the dancers, who had not only turned their passion professional, but were even married to their partners. This successful union of family, career and creativity inspired Brack, who was himself contending with work, family and his yearning to create art.
Upon seeing the Ballroom series, Brack’s friend Ronald Millar described them as “perhaps John Brack’s happiest works …”. That the artist was stirred deeply by the dancers has been reiterated by art historian Sasha Grishin. According to him, the faceless Judge #12 in Latin American Grand Final is a self-portrait. This addition of the personal stands in contrast with 5 O’Clock Collins Street, in which Brack occupies a position of removed judgment. Here, depicted as a lone dancer, Brack has thrust himself literally and figuratively into the humanity he once mocked.
Latin American Grand Final is a celebration of the dance of life. On one hand, it signifies the artist’s newfound liberty, while also acting as a continuation of his interest in modern society. Superbly reproduced, this print from the painting in the National Gallery of Australia’s collection, is Brack at his best. Bold, graphic and ultra-stylish - Latin American Final is an invitation to dance.
'Latin American Grand Final' 1969
Reproduction poster print on paper published by the National Gallery of Australia
Image Size: 51 x 63 cm