17 May – 8 June 2024

Gareth Sansom was born in November 1939, and although he was christened Gareth, he was, as far back as he can remember, called Gary, and most of his friends and family refer to him by this name.

His father, a journalist with the Melbourne Herald, hoped he would follow in his footsteps when, after leaving school in 1956, Sansom began working at The Herald as a copy boy. Much to his father’s horror, he resigned after one week and bought a set of oil paints with his first pay packet. After this, Sansom’s mother and father tried another approach by enrolling him in a primary teacher course at Melbourne Teachers’ College.

It was during 1957 and 1958, while completing his studies, that he began to visit art galleries and exhibitions in Melbourne. One of the first exhibitions he saw was Barry Humphries at The Victorian Artist Society Gallery – an exhibition that was to have a profound effect on his slowly forming ideas about art and what it could be.

Although Sansom was now teaching by day and painting at night, he had already discovered Francis Bacon (whom he eventually met in 1967) and British Pop Art via his part-time studies at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) with fellow students George Baldessin and Robert Jacks.

In 1959, then aged 19, Sansom began exhibiting at the Richman Gallery in Little Latrobe Street, Melbourne, with his exhibition there being opened by Arthur Boyd… (Jan Senbergs and Robert Rooney also had their first shows there.) Sansom could no longer be Gary, his mother told him, and from that point onwards when exhibiting he was Gareth Sansom.

By the time Sansom was 26, his works had been purchased by the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and the National Collection (NGA), however, in a decision he still reflects upon, he continued to teach at all levels by day while maintaining an active painting practice at night. Some 33 years ago, Sansom resigned as the Dean of the School of Art at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) and at the age of 51, in essence, became a full-time artist.

Juxtapositions is Gareth Sansom’s 12th solo exhibition with Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery since presenting the gallery’s opening exhibition in 1982. 

In his 85th year, Sansom continues to grapple with his lifelong struggle with ideas and interpretations of abstraction and figuration, combining, fusing, opposing, and juxtaposing within paintings on linen, and mixed media on plywood.

Sansom no longer paints at night…

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