The highly original art of polymath Edwin Tanner
‘No moons, no cows, no trees’, wrote Edwin Tanner of his work in a 1962 statement. ‘Not even a burnt stump or the inevitable parrot.’ This slightly pugnacious rejection of parochialism and the lack of easily recognisable Australian motifs in his art may have something to do with Tanner’s relatively low profile. Critics have also overlooked him: he is absent from Robert Hughes’ and Bernard Smith’s Australian art histories. Tanner was Welsh by birth, arriving in Australia as a young child – accounts differ as to whether he was eight or just three when the family left Wales – but the individuality of his style rests on more than merely this, as Anthony Fitzpatrick’s beautifully curated exhibition at the TarraWarra Museum of Art, held earlier this year, demonstrated.
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