Published: November 2016
Hans Heysen is one of the giants of Australian art who transformed the way we see the Australian landscape during the first two decades of Federation. Back from four years of study in Europe at the end of 1903, he achieved an astronomical success within twelve months of his return. Two major works were acquired by State Galleries and he was awarded the Wynne Prize, the first of nine times. In December 1904 he married Sallie Bartels who became his perfect partner. They moved to Hahndorf in 1908 and in 1912 acquired The Cedars, a house and property which proved to be the ideal home for Heysen the painter and his large family. Heysen's art is the result of great technical skill and his passion and understanding of the Australian landscape. What to others was 'the bush', for Heysen it was the miraculous and mystical essence of nature. He was inspired by light and the landscape of Hahndorf and the Adelaide Hills, which he transformed into an Arcadian vision that can still haunt us with its sense of timeless beauty.
Not only did he produce a range of masterpieces such as Red Gold (1912); Droving into the Light (1921) and The Three Gums (1921), but he also ventured into the Flinders Ranges in 1926, where he discovered a primordial landscape. Some of his finest works are the result of his many visits to the interior of the continent, which captured his imagination to the end of his life. The author, Lou Klepac, has had a long association with Hans Heysen. When he became Curator of Paintings at the Art Gallery of South Australia in 1966, Hans Heysen was still on the Art Gallery Board of Trustees. He invited Klepac to The Cedars and showed him through the studio. He has seen all the major exhibitions devoted to Heysen since 1966 and in 1988 he organised a comprehensive exhibition, 'Hans Heysen Drawings and Watercolours' for the S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney. The book has 149 plates, with numerous illustrations and photographs, and with special sections devoted to major paintings. It includes detailed biographical notes on the artist as well as informative quotes from the artist's letters. AUTHOR: Lou Klepac was born in Croatia in 1936.
He went to school in Venice and Trieste before emigrating to Australia in 1950. He was educated at Perth Modern School and the University of Western Australia. He was Curator of Paintings at the Art Gallery of Western Australia 1964--66; at the Art Gallery of South Australia 1966--70. After a period in London he returned to Australia to become Senior Curator and Deputy Director at the Art Gallery of Western Australia 1974--80. In 1980 he moved to Sydney and established The Beagle Press.
He has organised many exhibitions including Sickert Paintings 1968; Contemporary Drawing (International) 1977; Contemporary Australian Drawing 1978; Giorgio Morandi Etchings 1978; The Drawings of Walter Richard Sickert 1979; Russell Drysdale Drawings 1980; Russell Drysdale Paintings 1983; Giorgio Morandi Paintings and Etchings 1997; James Gleeson retrospective 2004; and Donald Friend, A Charmed Life 2006; and Destination Sydney 2015--16 He is the author of several books including 'William Scott Drawings 1974'; 'Lloyd Rees Drawings 1978'; 'Russell Drysdale 1983', revised and reprinted 1996 and 2009; 'James Gleeson: Landscape out of Nature' 1987; 'Nora Heysen' 1989; 'Australian Painters of the Twentieth Century' 2000; 'The Genius of Donald Friend: Drawings from the Diaries' 2000; 'William Robinson' 2001; 'John Coburn' 2003; 'James Gleeson: Beyond the screen of sight' 2004; 'Horace Trenerry' 2009; 'Russell Drysdale' Drawings 2012; and 'Brett Whiteley Drawings' 2014 In 1980 he was made Cavaliere della Repubblica Italiana; in 1996 he was awarded an OAM and in 2006 the University of Sydney conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Letters (honoris causa).