Paul Partos – Final Works 2002
Paul Partos was a member of that remarkable group of young artists in the 1960s who were deeply influenced by the New York School, which dramatically changed the shape of Australian modernism and firmly located it in an international context. Partos’ cool minimal paintings from his early period were profoundly assured and exquisitely crafted. The refinement of the surface and the compositional device of a rectangle within a rectangle, exhibited as early as 1965 became pervasive, thematic qualities in an expansive and prolific oeuvre which, over the next 35 years, was both continually intriguing to the artist and challenging to the viewer.
In December 2001, Partos was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor. On making this discovery he made the decision to spend his remaining time with his family and in recommitting to his artwork. Partos painted consistently throughout his final year creating the 21 new works shown in this exhibition the first time. As Anna Clabburn observes in her catalogue essay for the exhibition, ‘Partos’ decision to stay in his studio and paint while conscious of his limited time suggests a complete devotion to the life of being an artist … Despite his clear personal mission, an emotional dualism resides in Partos’ artwork, suggestive of an underlying restlessness of spirit. An ebb and flow of emotional tide rises and recedes throughout his compositions, emanating from deep within the dense layers that characterise his often heavily worked canvases. The formal eloquence of his finished images was commonly the product of a more volatile and angst-ridden process of application, revision, building-up then paring back … Although frequently rhythmic and peaceful as a whole, his paintings represent the sum of a mind brimful of a jostling and, we can suspect, frequently chaotic procession of ideas—expressed in a unique vocabulary of shifting shape and colour.’