The Enigma of the Whiteman; Wrestlers in the Simpson Desert

2008, 57 x 95 cms

A couple of sources inspired Wrestlers. My great friend and fabulous painter, John Anderson, had contrived a set of entwined wrestlers in a work of the early 1990s. It was a self-portrait of the artist at war with himself. What an apposite metaphor. Then I encountered a very weird looking work of Courbet's, Wrestlers, 1852, from the stunningly fecund decade of his career. Courbet's work referred to an notable contest set in park with distant pavilion, immigrant under-class entertainment in the liminal zone of the new Parisian suburbs. It is as strange a thing as you'll see from Courbet. I rotated his figures 180 degrees, as I'd done with another of his works (Roadmakers). I'd also wanted to set a scene at a remarkable site in the Johnson family's heartland in the north-east corner of the Simpson: a piece of red turf sprouting these remarkable splinters of quartz roughly translated as, 'pieces of the moon'.