The Pilbara Series is the last major series painted by Williams before his death in 1982. His depictions of Australia’s dramatic inland landscape, which he experienced during visits to the Pilbara in 1979, are striking in their use of colour and the use of both aerial and close up views, and his obvious respect for the land.
The National Gallery of Victoria has lent the works, and Rio Tinto, which originally commissioned the series in one of the greatest gifts of Australian corporate philanthropy, is providing sponsorship for the exhibition.
“These vibrant and striking Pilbara paintings are, in my opinion, the most important body of work Fred Williams ever painted,” said renowned Australian artist and Benalla resident, Ivan Durrant.
Mr Durrant has liaised with the National Gallery of Victoria about the paintings and has curated the exhibition.
“These works are so powerful and moving that anyone seeing them will forever view the Australian landscape in a new light. Fred Williams is one of Australia’s leading artists, to be considered alongside such greats as Sidney Nolan, Albert Tucker and Russell Drysdale.,” he said.
“It is a testament to the quality and appearance of our Gallery that the NGV have worked with us to host such an important collection,” he said. “This may be one of the most important exhibitions ever shown in a regional Australian Gallery.”
“The Benalla Art Gallery is excited to host this large and valuable selection from Fred Williams, one of Australia’s most influential artists,” said Jilian Mulally, Manager Arts Communications and Events for Benalla Rural City Council.
“Williams’ works have had a significant influence on the way Australians view their country, and it is a privilege to be able to offer a regional audience a chance to see these paintings in a new setting.”
Jilian Mulally said that the Benalla Rural City Council and the Gallery continued to work hard to provide opportunities for the community to view some of the best examples of diverse artwork from around Australia and beyond.
“This exhibition is another way the Council is able to help build the local community through cultural experiences, but will also have local economic benefits as people travel to view this exceptional collection.”