Stanislaus Rapotec, ‘Meditating on Good Friday’, 1961, Charles Nodrum Gallery


Signature: signed and dated, 'Rapotec 61' l.r.

Blake Prize for Religious Art, Commonwealth Bank Chambers, Sydney 1961(judges included Tony Tuckson and Lloyd Rees);
Australian Painting - Colonial, Impressionist, Contemporary AGSA (Adelaide Festival), AGWA, Tate Gallery, London, 1962-3;
Macquarie University, on loan 1971 - 1983;
The Blake Prize for Religious Art - the first twenty five years - A Survey, Monash University Art Gallery, April-May 1984;
Images of Religion in Australian Art, National Gallery of Victoria, 1988, no 38;
Federation: Australian Art and Society, 1901-2001, National Gallery of Australia, 2001 (the painting was too large to be
included in the national tour following the exhibition in Canberra);
O Soul, O Spirit, O Fire - celebrating 50 Years of the Blake Prize, Queensland University of Technology. 2001-2002;
New Worlds – 1950s-60s Abstraction, Benalla Art Gallery, August 2002;
Vibrant Matter, TarraWarra Museum of Art, 20 April – 16 June 2013

Bill Hannan, “Capricious Juries”, Blake Prize review, The Observer, March 4, 1961, p 18;
Clive Turnbull, Elizabeth Young & Daniel Thomas, Antipodean Vision, Cheshire, Melbourne, 1962. This was effectively the
catalogue for the Tate Gallery Exhibition listed above.
Alan McCulloch, Encyclopedia of Australian Art, Hutchinson, London, 1st edition, 1968, illus p 337.
Elwyn Lynn, Avant Garde Painting in Sydney, Meanjin, September, 1961
Bill Hannan, Strength of Purpose, exhibition review, The Bulletin, May 26, 1962, p 56
Robert Hughes, The Art of Australia, Pelican, London, 1970, p 284 & pl 118
Gary Catalano, The Years of Hope, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1981, p 76-80 & illus p 86
James Gleeson, Masterpieces of Australian Art, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 1969, pl 83 - illustrated in reverse
James Gleeson, Modern Painters, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 1971, pl 64
Rosemary Crumlin, The Blake Prize for Religious Art.....A Survey, exhibition catalogue, Monash University 1984, p 13-14.
Rosemary Crumlin, Images of Religion in Australian Art, Bay Books, Sydney, 1988, p 17 & 86. This served as the catalogue
for the above exhibition.
Geoffrey Dutton, The Innovators, MacMillan, Melbourne, 1986, p 192.
John McDonald, ed; Annette Tapp, Federation – Australian Art and Society 1901-2001, National Gallery of Australia,
Canberra, exhibition catalogue, 2001, p 208-9
Zoja Bojic, Stanislav Rapotec: a Barbarogenius in Australian Art, Andrejevic Endowment, Belgrade, 2007, illus p 147
Sasha Grishin, Australian Art: a History, Meigunyah, Melbourne, 2013, pl 375
see also Nation, 11 & 25 March, and 8 April 1961, for related correspondence from Robert Hughes and Fr Michael Scott.
Australian Abstract Expressionism emerged in the mid 1950s and came of age around 1960 with three key paintings. John
Olsen’s Spanish Encounter summed up his formative years and set him on the course for which he is so widely known.
Similarly, Peter Upward’s magisterial triptych June Celebration exemplified the Zen-connected energy and spontaneity
which remained central to his practice.
If a boisterous energy emerged from Olsen and an oriental dispassion from Upward, Stanislau Rapotec sent out a different
message from different mental zones. Titles such as Tension and Disturbance, speak for themselves. His marks were stern
and severe, and his tone marked by a brooding intensity and existential angst.
His entry for the 1960 Blake Prize was his largest, darkest and most ambitious work to date; and when it won it sparked the
widest public controversy since the Dobell- Archibald affair in 194…. Its total rejection of anything connected to Christian
iconography (which other abstractionists such as John Coburn and Eric Smith had included) was basically the main field of
The subject was hardly a happy one: Good Friday is a day of death and mourning, of pain and grief – at least within the
Christian calendar. But if the painting can have an appeal to a wider secular public, it’s not hard to read it as a raw physical
expression of the inner lacerations we all suffer at the death of a loved one.
This is relevant in so far as the controversy was not limited to the appropriateness of the work in relation to its subject and
to the Blake Prize – both of which were basically theological matters – but extended to tackle the issue as to whether
abstraction could ever express the sorts of deep and turbulent feelings it claimed it could.

From the artist through Rudy Komon; to Victor Macallister, c 1964; to his widow, Ellen, 1966; to their daughter Pamela Pacquola, 1973; to Charles Nodrum, 1999.

About Stanislaus Rapotec

Australian, 1913-1997, Trieste, Province of Trieste, Italy