#Nolan 100

No 68. Crucifixion - Rod Bugg

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No 68. Crucifixion - Rod Bugg

How difficult it is to select just a single work by Sidney Nolan from a body of work that is so extensive and wonderfully rich. My choice was triggered by a conversation with Lady Nolan when I was lead artist on the sculpture programme at The Rodd.

She talked about her travels with Sidney and showed me her photographs of the Tuscan olive harvest from that time.  She also spoke of Sidney’s earlier travels in the Mediterranean in both Italy and Greece and this fired my curiosity.

When you look at the paintings that draw on those journeys you become aware that, even though he was not a religious man, Nolan must have been deeply struck by the spirituality that pervaded the countryside and the way of life of Southern Europe. I also became curious about a crucifix with all of its strange attachments that sits in one corner of his Rodd studio and wondered whether this was acquired during his Italian or Greek travels? I was interested to find more than five crucifixion paintings from the early fifties, all overlaid with the black linear tools of the crucifixion and the face of Christ. Could these paintings draw on just such primitive southern crucifixes? They certainly reveal his extraordinary intellectual and visual curiosity about religions and cultures. In the same way that the primitive crucifix is encrusted with symbols and messages, these works also include the instruments of the passion which feature so strongly in the Orthodox and Catholic churches, particularly in the South - the dice cast by the soldiers, the crowing cockerel, the hammer, the pliers, the lance and the sponge and so on.

I eventually chose Crucifixion 1955, shown quite recently at The Rodd.  Could it be that the painting overlays aspects of a Southern Mediterranean depiction of Christ and the crown of thorns with references to the Green Man of pre-Christian Northern Europe? Could the mask-like quality of the face of Christ be a reference to  the mask of Ned Kelly set in the Italian/Greek landscape and mountains? Could it also be a deeply troubled portrait, and of whom? Maybe himself? Whilst being moved by the brutal image of the painting and the extraordinary quality of its execution there are also questions of what lies beneath the paint, what has been overpainted? What other painting hides below the surface of this particular crucifixion?

This painting is as powerful, dark and beautiful as it is complex. It leaves me with so many questions, as well as the enduring force of its presence.”


Rod Bugg is a practising artist and Emeritus Professor of the University of Arts, London.  Until December 2006 he was Principal and CEO of Wimbledon School of Art, London. He is a current Trustee of the Sidney Nolan Trust.

Sidney Nolan, Crucifixion, 1955, 92.5 x 122 cm, Ripolin and oil on hardboard, private collection, © Sidney Nolan Trust

Crucifixion will be shown as part of ‘Sidney Nolan and Graham Sutherland: A Sense of Place’ at Oriel y Parc, St David’s, from 30th September 2017 to 28th January 2018. 

No.1 - Four Abstracts - Alexander Downer

No.2 - Self Portrait - Angus Trumble

No.3 - Arabian Tree - Kendrah Morgan

No.4 Riverbend I - Francine Stock

No.5 - Desert - Andrew Logan

No.6 Dog and Duck - Jane Clark

No.7 Vivisector - Tim Abdallah

No.8 In the Cave - Rebecca Daniels

No.9 Young Soldier - Clare Woods

No.10 Ned Kelly - Shaun Gladwell

No.11 Bird - Deborah Ely

No. 12 Hare in Trap - Nicholas Usherwood

No.13 Untitled (Catani Arch, St Kilda) - David Rainey

No.14 Death of a Poet - Simon Martin

No.15 Study for Samson et Dalila - Elijah Moshinsky

No.16 Rimbaud at Harar - Edmund Capon AM OBE

No.17 Quilting the Armour - Jackie Haliday

No.18 Snake - David Walsh

No.19 Angel and the Tree - Dr Nicky McWilliam

No.20 Brian the Stockman at Wave Hill Mounting a Dead Horse - Damian Smith

No.21 Steve Hart Dressed as a Girl -Jennifer Higgie

No.22 Women and Billabong - Anthony Plant

No.23 Agricultural Hotel - Philip Mead

No.24 Policeman in a Wombat Hole - Kay Whitney

No.25 Peter Grimes - David Lipsey

No.26 Self Portrait in Youth - Barry Pearce & Duncan Fallowell

No.27 Riverbend I - Ian Dungavell

No.28 Drowned Soldier at Anzac as Icarus - Paul Gough

No.29 Thames - John Tooley

No.30 Girl - Amelda Langslow

No.31 Ned Kelly and Policeman - Daniel Crawshaw

No.32 Tarred and Feathered - Nick Cave

No.33 Self Portrait - Denise Mimmocchi

No.34 Peter Grimes's Apprentice - George Vass

No.35 The Emu Hunt - Roger Law

No.36 Luna Park - Paula Dredge

No.37 Rose in Coffee Pot - Anthony Collier

No.38 The Cardplayers - Nevin Jayawardena

No.39 Bathers - Lesley Harding

No.40 Aboriginal Girl - Jennie Milne

No.41 Pretty Polly Mine - Michael Brand

No 42. Roses in a Merric Boyd Vase - Jack Galloway

No 43. Brett Whiteley - Jonathan Watkins

No 44. Island - Nick Yelverton

No 45. Luna Park - Bill Granger

No 46. Face of the Damned - Kate McMillan

No 47. Central Australia - Leanne Santoro

No 48. Crane - Brian Adams

No 49. Myself - Simon Mundy

No 50. Going to Work, Rising Sun Hotel, 1948 - David Ferry

No 51. Figure at Harar - Andrew Turley

No 52, Greek Figures - Simon Pierse

No 53. Randolph Stow - Suzanne Falkiner

No 54. Landscape No.27 (Convalescence) - Suzanne Falkiner

No 55. Self portrait - Oliver McCall

No 56. McMurdo Sound - Mike Clements

No 57. Faun, Woman, Rider, Horse - Mark Fraser

No 58. Season in Hell (Benjamin Britten) - Anne Bean

No 59. The Slip - Humphrey Ocean

No 60. Central Australia - Chris Drury

No 61. Riverbend - Christina Slade

No 62. Head - Celia Johnson

No 63. Myth Rider - Desmond Browne

No 64. Stockman - Bridget McDonnell

No 65. Untitled (flower) - Roma Piotrowska

No 66. Chinese Landscape - Celia Perceval

No 67. Untitled - Des Hughes

No 68. Crucifixion - Rod Bugg

No 69. Icebergs - Laurence Hall

No 70. Bather in a Lily Pool - Amanda Fitzwilliams

No 71. Breaks like the Atlantic Ocean on my head - Michael Berkeley

No 72. Carcase in Swamp - Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva

No 73. Ern Malley - Isabella Boorman

No 74. Mrs Reardon at Glenrowan - Adrian Kelly

No 75. Landscape Carnarvon Range, Queensland - Catherine Noske

No 76. Abraham and Isaac - Sarah Bardwell

No 77. Rosa Mutabilis - Catherine Hunter

No 78. Artist drawing nude - Victoria Lynn

No 79. Boy and the moon - Natalie Wilson

NO 80. Explorer and Township - Helen Idle

No 81. All Tastes Like Dust in the Mouth... - Carolyn Leder

No 82. Young Boy Who Was Good at Latin - Roxy Shaw

No 83. Mrs Fraser - Anne Carter

No 84. Paradise Garden - David Oliver

No 85. Leda and the Swan - Marilyn Sweet

No 86. Burke and Wills at the Gulf - Jenny Watson

No 87. Dream of the latrine sitter - Ryan Johnston

No 88. Footballer - Gerard Vaughan

NO 89. Sketch for Ned Kelly - Amanda Fuller

NO 90. Woman in Lagoon - Jinx Nolan

No 91. Cherries in a bowl - Peter Blake

No 92. Fountain - Heywood Hill

No 93. Artist and painting - Charles Nodrum

No 94. Death of Constable Scanlon - Anita Taylor

No 95. Untitled (abstract) - David Jaffe

No 96. Digital image - Joe Studholme

No 97. Seated figure and bird - Sally Aitken

No 98. Burke and Wills expedition 'Gray sick' - Gary Sangster

No 99. Kangaroo at Ayers Rock - Pru and Anthony Napolitano

No 100. The Galaxy - Elizabeth Langslow

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