JAMES Gleeson believes that art is society’s strongest link between the past, the present and the future. And to ensure the grand tradition of Australian art continues well into the 21st century, the painter is putting all of his money – $16 million of it – where his mouth is.
In what is by far the biggest monetary donation received by the Art Gallery of NSW in its 104-year history, Gleeson has pledged his entire estate to the Sydney landmark.
“I thought about it quite seriously for a long time, and I decided that it was the logical thing for me to do,” said the 91-year-old, who is considered Australia’s pre-eminent surrealist painter.
“Art is my main reason for existence, really. I just love what man has made to satisfy some aesthetic instinct and need, and I think there should be more of it. It is the great connecting link between the past and today.”