Important Australian + International Fine Art
9 May 2007

Robert Dickerson

born 1924

synthetic polymer paint on canvas

150.0 x 275.0 cm

signed lower right: Dickerson

$100,000 - 140,000

Rex Irwin Art Dealer, Sydney
Acquired from the above in 2000
Private collection, Sydney


Robert Dickerson Recent Paintings, Rex Irwin Art Dealer, Sydney, 8 August - 2 September 2000, cat.1 (label attached verso)

Catalogue text

In 1991 Robert Dickerson moved from his city studio to country Queensland, leaving behind him Sydney's Paddington where he had painted such classic images of individual and urban isolation as Guy 1957, in the collection of the Newcastle Region Art Gallery, and Wynyard Station 1959 in the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery. He settled at Eumundi near Noosa, enjoying the bush and the beach, where he swam every day. Here he returned to painting the peopled landscape, of figures performing farming tasks like picking strawberries at Palmwoods and harvesting sugar cane. There are times of relaxation- Artist's Wife Reading at Kin Kin 1991 (London private collection), and Tourist at Noosa 1993 (private collection, Sydney), and, of course, swimming;- Man Swimming, Maroochy River 1992 (private collection, Surfer's Paradise).

Very active and in his eighties, Dickerson is now so identified with his early morning swim that Nicholas Harding's 2005 Archibald entry, Bob'sDaily Swim, showed him hatted, relaxing in the pool at his holiday house at Culburra on the south coast. Significantly, only Dickerson is present, a reference to his own paintings. His theme of the solitary figure continued into later paintings of the landscape- Forest at Imbil 1993 and especially, seated and thoughtful, The Artist in the Landscape 1993 (both in the Dickerson Family collection).

Although his Sydney solo exhibition of 2000 included a number of single figures- Man Walking, Turpentine Park and Finger Wharf with the Harbour Bridge in the background, the former sense of melancholy is softer, even suffused with quiet enjoyment, while other paintings from the exhibition, such as Meeting at Bundanon and Jazz Bar, express the warmth of personal relationships and pleasure in another's company. In Swimmers at the River 2000, however, the three people are physically and emotionally apart, separated from the rest of the world by the background wall of trees. Swimmers at the River is the major work from the series of Shoalhaven paintings created by Dickerson at Arthur Boyd's studio at Bundanon in New South Wales, during his residency there while the studio at his nearby property, "Turpentine Park" was being built. It is vintage Dickerson, of figures in isolation within the landscape, characteristically expressed in his clearly articulated forms and colours.