Brett Whiteley is considered one of the most prominent Australian artists of the 20th century. So it's a little surprising to learn that there has never been an exhibition specifically dedicated to his drawing — until now. Across summer, the Art Gallery of NSW is hosting a retrospective solely focused on this element of Whiteley's work and the pivotal role it played in his wider practice, titled Brett Whiteley: Drawing is Everything. You'll get to experience rarely seen works dating from the early days of his career through to his later years as one of Australia's most beloved and internationally successful artists.
With an impressive 116 pieces on display, expect to see an amazing variety of drawings, ranging from portraits and nudes to interiors, lyrical landscapes and abstracts. The exhibition also showcases some of Whiteley's most significant paintings and sculptures, aiming to highlight the way in which drawing — which Whiteley once described as an "un-rehearsable and unrepeatable visual truth" — habitually planted the seed for his broader artistic practices.
As always at the Art Gallery of NSW, there's a bunch of related workshops, talks and special events to get involved in. Over weekends during February and March, you can hop on a free shuttle between the Gallery, the Brett Whiteley Studio in Surry Hills and Wendy Whiteley's Secret Garden in Lavender Bay (if you've never been, you're in for a treat.) Plus, when you visit the exhibition, you'll be given a pencil and drawing booklet so you can record your own creative response. Even if you're not much of a drawer, give it a go and don't overthink it. In Whiteley's own words, "It is better to have drawn and lost than never to have drawn at all."
Brett Whiteley: Drawing is Everything is open at the Art Gallery of NSW until Sunday, March 31. For more information on the associated public programs and to purchase tickets, visit the website.