Robin Gibson Gallery

modern + contemporary

Elwyn Lynn


Elwyn Lynn

Wagga Crow 1994
77×112cm mixed media on canvas


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Elwyn Lynn 1917-1997 occupied a remarkable position in Australian art in the second half of the 20th century

In 1958, Lynn visited Europe, where the walls and buildings of many major cities still bore the scars of the dreadful destruction of the Second World War. He also attended the Venice Biennale, where he saw the works of the emerging matter painters, including Antoni Tapies, who were being exhibited in the Spanish Pavilion. These experiences exerted an indelible influence on Lynn. He felt that it was impossible, now, to create paintings that calmly tinkered with formal arrangements, or which confined themselves to beguiling but innocuous subject matter. Lynn turned to unconventional painting media and above all to expressive surfaces to construct metaphors for human suffering and endurance. Most of his work was essentially abstract, although a sense of the landscape is often evoked “ a landscape disfigured, torn and corrugated by time and geomorphic stresses.

The later work of Lynn maintained his interest in damaged and shredding surfaces, and his frequent and adventurousness use of assemblage elements. These late works were also marked by an expressionist vehemence and a daring informality.

As well as his considerable achievements as a painter, Elwyn Lynn was also of central importance in Australian art as a writer, and art critic, President of the Contemporary Art Society (NSW Branch), Chair of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council and Curator of the Power Gallery of Contemporary Art at the University of Sydney for fourteen years. His awards include the Wynne Prize for landscape painting in 1988, an Australia Council Emeritus Award in 1994, and a Membership of the Order of Australia in 1975. In 1991, the Art Gallery of New South Wales mounted a comprehensive Retrospective Exhibition of his work. “Elwyn Lynn: Metaphor and Texture”, a major study of his work, was published by Craftsman House in 2002. Peter Pinson


Elwyn Lynn

Woollahra Council Plaque Scheme – Moncur Street

Elwyn Lynn

1917 Born Canowindra NSW
1938-41 BA, Dip Ed, Sydney University and Sydney Teachers’ College
1940s Began Painting in the mid-forties. No formal art training
1942-68 Taught in NSW High Schools, mainly English and History
1955-69 Editor of CAS Broadsheet
1963 Art critic, Sunday Mirror
1963-68 President of the Contemporary Art Society of Australia (NSW Branch)
1964-65 Art critic, The Australian
1966-73 Art critic, The Bulletin
1966-78 Associate Editor of Quadrant. Editor from Jan 78 – Aug 1981
1969 Art critic, The Nation
1969-83 Curator of Power Gallery of Contemporary Art, Power Institute of Fine Arts
1973 1975 1977 Australian Correspondent, Manifestation Biennale et Internationale
des Jeunes Artistes, Paris
1975-81 Advisor to Ljublijana Print Biennale, Yugoslavia
1975 Awarded Membership of the Order of Australia
1976-80 Chairman of the Visual Arts Board
1977 Prepared script for ABC film “Sidney Nolan at Sixty”, directed by Brian Adams, commentary by Lord (Kenneth) Clark
1977 Mid career retrospective exhibition of 50 works, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney
1989 Honorary Doctor of Letters, University of Sydney
1983-95 Art critic, The Weekend Australian
1993 Elwyn Lynn Conference Room (Selected paintings exhibited) ,College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales
1994 Emeritus Award, Australia Council
1997 Died in Sydney (January)

Solo Exhibitions

2022 Elwyn Lynn, Robin Gibson Gallery
2021 Paper & Canvas, Robin Gibson Gallery
2020 Selected works from The Estate of Elwyn Lynn, Robin Gibson Gallery
2019 Rainbows, Clouds and Cross, Robin Gibson Gallery
2009 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
2007 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
2007 Milk Factory Gallery, Bowral
2097 Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne
2004 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
2003 The Nolan Gallery, Canberra, Survey exhibition, works 1969 – 1996
2002 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
2001 Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne
2001 Gallery 20/21, Auckland, New Zealand
2000 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1998 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1998 Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne
1996 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1994 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1991 Art Gallery of New South Wales. Retrospective
1990 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1989 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1988 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1987 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1987 Gerstman Abdallah Fine Arts International, Melbourne
1986 Gerstman Abdallah Fine Arts International, Melbourne
1986 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1985 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1985 Quintin Gallery, Perth
1985 Gerstman Abdallah Fine Arts International, Melbourne
1984 Stuart Gerstman Gallery, Melbourne
1984 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1983 Niagara Galleries, Melbourne
1982 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1981 Von Bertouch Gallery, Newcastle
1978 Coventry Gallery, Sydney
1977 Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney
1975 Bonython Gallery, Sydney
1974 Dramalan College, Canberra
1974 South Yarra Gallery, Melbourne
1973 Bonython Art Gallery, Sydney
1972 South Yarra Galleries, Melbourne
1972 Reid Gallery, Brisbane
1971 Bonython Art Gallery, Sydney
1970 South Yarra Galleries, Melbourne
1969 Von Bertouch Gallery, Newcastle
1969 Bonython Galleries, Sydney
1967 Hungry Horse Gallery, Sydney
1967 Skinner Gallery, Perth
1967 C.A.S., Adelaide
1966 Von Bertouch Gallery, Newcastle
1963 Museum of Modern Art Melbourne
1963 Terry Clune Gallery, Sydney
1963 Von Bertouch Gallery, Newcastle
1959 Macquarie Galleries, Sydney
1959 Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne
1958 Macquarie Galleries, Sydney
1958 Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne
1958 Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane

Since 1958, Elwyn Lynn has had 50 solo exhibitions in Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Cologne, Germany and New Zealand including the 1991 Retrospective 1956 – 1990 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Wagga City Art Gallery and Bathurst City Art Gallery.

Since 1947 Elwyn Lynn has participated in over 150 group exhibitions in Australia, New Zealand, England, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Indonesia, Warsaw, Poland and Cologne.


Albury Regional Art Gallery
Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
Araluen Art Centre Alice Springs
Auckland Art Gallery New Zealand
Australian War Memorial, Canberra
Bathurst Regional Gallery
Bendigo Regional Gallery
BHP Collection, Melbourne
Brisbane College of Advanced Education
British Museum
Edith Cowan University, Perth
Broken Hill City Art Gallery
Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga
COFA University of NSW, Sydney
Gold Coast City Art Gallery
Griffith University, Brisbane
Heidi Park & Art Gallery Melbourne
Maitland City Art Gallery
Monash University, Melbourne
Mosman Art Gallery
Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney
Muswellbrook Regional Art Gallery
National Bank of Australia Collections
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
National Gallery of Malaysia
Newcastle Regional Art Gallery
Orange Regional Art Gallery
Penrith Regional Art Gallery
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery, Launceston
Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, Hobart
Wollongong City Gallery
University of Newcastle
University of NSW, Sydney
University of Western Australia, Perth


1992 Awarded Atelier at Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris
1988 Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of NSW
1987 University of NSW Purchase Prize
1985 Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of NSW
1983 Trustees’ Watercolour Prize, Art Gallery of NSW
1980 Trustees’ Watercolour Prize, Art Gallery of NSW
1976 Festival of Fisher’s Ghost Prize, Cambelltown
1966 Robin Hood Prize
1965 RAS Modern Prize and Sidney Myer Charity Trust Prize
1964 Rockdale and Wollongong Prizes
1963 Muswellbrook, Wollongong and Young Prizes
1962 Wagga Wagga and Campbelltown Prizes
1961 Marrickville Prize
1957 Blake Prize
1957 Bathurst Prize
1957 Mosman Prize

Nick Waterlow On Elwyn Lynn

Elwyn ‘Jack’ Lynn (1917-97) was born in Canowindra near Orange, studied at the University Of Sydney, and was self-taught as an artist. He was a schoolmaster in Sydney Secondary schools until 1968 became a prominent advocate of the art of his time through the Contemporary Art Society and as editor of its Broadsheet and was appointed Curator of the Power Gallery of Contemporary Art at Sydney University from 1969 to 1983, where he built up an international collection now within Sydney’s Museum Of Contemporary Art. Lynn was a prolific writer, as art critic at the Australian for many years, and as author of several books on artists including Sidney Nolan.

He first went overseas in 1958, and it was in the Spanish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale that he discovered an artist successfully creating ‘matter’ paintings that he had been attempting. Antoni Tapies in particular was a revelation, in his use of texture to build works that were iconic, timeless and redolent of Spain. Fellow Spaniards Rafael Canogar, Manuel Millers and Antonio Saura also impressed, as did the German texture artist such as Emil Schumacher and Bernard Schultz. Lynn discovered that PVA was the magic ingredient and took a whole can back to Australia. He was then able to develop his own version of the genre creating effects inspired by elements in the landscape of his native, often parched land.

Cloud Burst and Burnt Land and Australia are fine and typical examples of his practice. The former possibly emerges from the deeply etched memories of growing up in the bush where conditions veered from deluge to drought. The sense of the title is cleverly embraced in both the construction, choreography and colouring of the work. Lynn’s Australia has none of the hubris of Baz Luhman’s recent similarly titled manifestation, encapsulating instead a wry and understated national awareness, emblematic of the acute difficulties of imposing any bureaucratic system, postal or other, on a harsh untamed land.

Nick Waterlow OAM Director, Ivan Dougherty Gallery

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