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Journeys into the 'You Beaut Country'
Author Jenny Zimmer & Ken McGregor
Publisher Macmillan Art Publishing
Published in 2007
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Excerpts from the Foreward by Giles Auty, September 2007
At 80 John Olsen is widely acknowledged as the grand old man of current Australian art. Yet, writing as someone who has reviewed art over the years in 20 different countries, I cannot help regretting that John's art is still so little known outside this country. Not only does this deprive the artist of the kind of international recognition he deserves but it also deprives a potential world-wide audience of a truly rich and life-enhancing experience.
While clearly of its time, Olsen's work differs from much international art in being linked inextricably with the country of its origin. Such a bond manifests itself especially through its informality, irreverence and sense of humour. Yet, while much recent Australian humour contains an element of scorn, Olsen's art reveals not only a deep understanding of the human condition but also a rare compassion for our frailties. Here is a warm and generous art which is often set, paradoxically, in a landscape that is harsh, violent and unforgiving.