Feet beneath the table 1956
tempera and oil on composition board
106.5 x 121.8 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented through the NGV Foundation by Barbara Blackman, Honorary Life Benefactor, 2005
© Charles Blackman/Licensed by VISCOPY, Australia
Charles Blackman is one of Australia's most important living artists and is renowned for his images that explore the duality of life. In 1956 Blackman heard Lewis Carroll's extraordinary and bizarre tale of Alice in Wonderland. Inspired by this and also influenced by the effect of the failing sight of his wife, Barbara, Blackman produced a series of 46 major works, over a 12 month period. The story of Alice moving through a tableau of irrational situations, constantly frustrated, paralleled Barbara's own experiences as her eyesight progressively worsened.
The paintings blend iconic motifs from Carroll's fantastic journey into the imagination with Blackman's personal life. The results are challenging images that are simultaneously amusing and disquieting.
Many of the works in the series have not been seen for many decades and several will be repatriated to Australia for the exhibition. Charles Blackman: Alice in Wonderland celebrates the 50th anniversary of the series and will reunite the majority of works for the very first time.
Indemnification for this exhibition is provided by the Victorian Government