Baldessin/Whiteley: Parallel Visions
⬤ National Gallery of Victoria 31 Aug 2018 - 28 Jan 2019
Together George Baldessin and Imants Tillers represented Australia in the 1975 Bienal de São Paulo. Although Tillers was 25 and Baldessin eleven years older, the artists bonded closely: “George represented the more conservative art world I had just decided to abandon,” notes Tillers in an interview with researcher Nicole Bowller from 2016, “but in fact, he kind of made me appreciate it again”. While in Brazil Baldessin, a charismatic charmer, befriended German artist Sigmar Polke. Polke and Baldessin were roughly the same age, “we used to have drinks every evening … (Polke) was attracted to the Australian contingent. (This entourage included Mervyn Horton, the Australian Commissioner for the Bienal, and Rudy Komon, Baldessin’s dealer)”. Later Polke would visit Australia in the early 1980s and have a career-altering experience seeing (and filming) the red sand at Uluru. The mid-career pivot (inspired by travel, landscape, art or whatever) is a narrative tragically closed off to Baldessin. Had he been so inclined, Polke couldn’t catch-up with his colleague in Melbourne while in Australia, as by this time Baldessin was dead.