For this self portrait, Brack was influenced by Georges Seurat. The tone and form give it a timeless quality.
Its softness, achieved through masterful use of conté crayon, contrasts with the crisp figures in Brack’s painted portraits. But the composition and expression is undeniably Brack.
Bonython always wore a speedway cap, which Brack initially excluded from the painting.
He was more concerned with revealing Bonython’s inner life than the world of appearances.
As the video reveals, after the painting was complete Bonython repeatedly asked Brack to paint his cap in. The additional canvas was Brack's solution.
And here is the vivid painting that resulted.
Humphries later said of Brack:
"He was different and no one knew what to say about his work. Many critics of the time saw it as caricature but he made a deep impression on me because his shrewd pictorial observations had an affinity with my own theatrical portrayals of Melbourne life."
Although in the final phase of his career he turned to abstract painting, Brack remains best known for his figurative works and portraits that – like this one – draw our attention to the irony and performance of human behaviour.
This exhibit was written by Grace Blakely-Carroll and edited and produced by Catherine Styles. Thanks to Art Gallery of New South Wales for allowing us to include their works.