When artists respond to war they can portray heroism, or horror and both approaches are present in a fascinating touring exhibition from the Australian War Memorial which opens at NERAM next Thursday 24 April at 6pm. Reality in Flames shows how Australian artists responded to the Second World War. It was a time of anxiety, competing ideologies and great change and the artists in this exhibition engage with the war in original and revealing ways.
Reality in flames draws entirely from the War Memorial’s extensive collection, and includes 53 paintings, 32 works on paper and 5 sculptures, including works from renowned artists such as Stella Bowen, Russell Drysdale, Sidney Nolan and Albert Tucker. Some works were part of the official war art scheme while others are by artists who struggled to balance the creation of their art with their war-related labour or military service. It is not only combat that is portrayed. Some works are by refugees, prisoners of war and civilians in internee or concentration camps. The artists explore the events they saw around them. Not only the introduction of advanced technology to warfare and the tremendous hardship, destruction and loss wrought by the conflict, but also new foreign and cultural encounters; changing gender roles; the home front, leisure and recreation to create a kaleidoscopic image of Australia at war.
Australian War Memorial curator Warwick Heywood will give a talk about the exhibition before the opening at 5:30pm on Thursday 24 April. Opening takes place at 6pm on Thursday 24 April, with guest opener Commodore Michael Houghton, Director Surface Ships.
The exhibition will be on display at NERAM until 13 July.
IMAGE: Frank Hinder (1906–1992) Bomber crash (detail), 1949, egg tempera, oil glazes on gesso on hardboard, 59.5 x 49.1 cm, ART26924