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Peter Powditch

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Peter Powditch

Born 1942, Sydney

Peter Powditch is one of the unsung heroes of Australian Pop Art. He rose to prominence with imagery depicting Australian beach culture populated by his many bikini-clad figures. The constant exploration of the contours of the human, and particularly female form in this period of work was often balanced by a discourse on hard-edged painting. Much like American artist Tom Weselmann, Powditch’s career was stifled to a certain degree by the undertones of a feminist backlash against art perceived as chauvinistic. Powditch recalls critics proclaiming that ‘one wouldn’t take their children to see his exhibitions’. Like fellow Australian artist Richard Larter, Powditch turned towards abstract painting in the 1970s, in part to counter this perception. However, this clichéd derogation has been largely overcome and today, the 1960s works are some of his most highly sought-after and well regarded. Showgirl, though not part of a series, drew on imagery from advertising, sensually extending it and similar works, through their materials. Showgirl ’10 takes the curves of a clothed bust into a seductively three-dimensional frame, rejoicing in a sexual play on the depths achieved through sculpture. This brought the work closer in source to Roman Classical marble relief, than merely the 1960s ‘soft porn’ as has been erroneously presumed. Born in 1942, Powditch studied privately under John Olsen and was heavily influenced during his time at East Sydney Tech, by his mentor the sculptor Lyndon Dadswell. He began exhibiting at Gallery A in 1966, drawn there by fellow artist Robert Klippel, but moved into the stable of Rudy Komon in 1971, after the initial departure of Max Hutchinson to New York from Gallery A. He won the Sir John Sulman Prize in 1972. Powditch currently lives and works in Bangalow, NSW. He continues to stage regular solo-exhibitions in Sydney with his long time friend Ray Hughes, who first showed Powditch in 1969 at his Brisbane Gallery 1 Eleven.

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