John Beard’s version of The Raft of the Medusa allows one to comprehend the Romantic grandeur and powerful beauty of the great masterpiece by Theodore Géricault which hangs in the Louvre, Paris.
Géricault’s painting depicts the horrifying fate of sailors dying on a raft after the shipwreck of the French frigate Medusa off the West African coast 200 years ago, in July 1816.
For GIAF 2017, the artist is creating a second much darker, life–size mirrored version of the work which will hang, at adistance of 30 meters, opposite his painting After The Raft of the Medusa. The installation of both of Beard’s enormous works evokes questions of the viewer about aspects of reality, illusion, imagination and memory.
Backstage at the Festival
Gallery talk with the artist, 17 July, 2pm
About John Beard
John Beard’s work has been exhibited worldwide and is held in the collections of major gallery museums and institutions.
Born in Aberdare, Wales in 1943, Beard studied at the University of London and the Royal College of Art. Beard has had a distinguished teaching career throughout England and Australia, co-producing and appearing in a series of programmes for BBC television in the UK, before arriving in Western Australia in 1983 to become Head of Fine Art, at Curtin University, Perth. In 1989, he resigned from teaching in order to devote his full attention to his practice. Beard then traveled extensively, living and exhibiting in New York, Madrid, Lisbon and London before establishing a Sydney base in 1997.
In 1998, he was artist-in-residence and his work was the subject of a solo exhibition titled After Adraga at the Tate St Ives in the UK. In 2000/1, His work Wanganui Heads was selected to represent the year ‘1998’ in The London National Portrait Gallery’s Painting the Century, a Hundred years of Portrait Masterpieces. In 2002, Beard exhibited in HEAD ON: Art with the Brain in Mind, at The Science Museum, London, England. He held a solo exhibition titled After Adraga II at the The Gulbenkian’s Centro de Arte Moderna in Lisbon, Portugal, and at The Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. In 2009 the late William Wright curated a survey exhibition titled Headlands, works from 1993 -2007 for The Drill Hall Gallery in Canberra. In 2010 a large body of work titled Gesichtlos- die Ästhetik des Diffusen/ Faceless- the aesthetics of Diffusion, was exhibited at Kunsthalle Darmstadt in Germany. His most recent solo shows in London have been at Hales Galley and at The Fine Art Society Gallery. In 2013 he exhibited at The Royal Academy of Art’s exhibition titled ‘Australia’ .
In 2006, Beard won the Art Gallery of New South Wales Wynne Prize for Landscape painting, and, in 2007, he won the Art Gallery of New South Wales Archibald Prize for Portraiture. In 2009 he was appointed as Professorial Visiting Fellow in the School of Art,University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. and in February 2010 he became a Trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
In 2011 a major monograph of his work was published and launched in London at The Royal Academy of Art by Charles Saumarez Smith and in Sydney, at The AGNSW by Edmund Capon.
The artist divides his time between London, Sydney and Europe.