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John Kelly paints cows. But he paints them like no other artist paints cows. They are cubic shapes, floating in mid-air, sometimes on trestles, or upside down with their udders pointing upwards. Their inspiration comes from a story that is almost as bizarre as the images themselves.
Kelly read that a World War 2 Government-directed activity of one of Australia’s greatest artists, William Dobell, was to make papier-mache cows and place them in fields to distract Japanese pilots surveying rural areas for military defence bases!
But while Kelly’s paintings are as surreal as the original plan, they are not simply a novelty. They are the works of an artist of great talent, attention to detail, and precise execution.
John Kelly was born in
Now based in
Kelly’s devotion to cows has brought extraordinary acclaim, exhibitions, publicity, commissions and representation in public and private galleries around the world.
The on-going project reflects absurdities that seem to generate when the world is in conflict. Even at the time, Dobell himself could see the mad side to it, saying: “I think the authorities underestimate the eyesight of the Japanese airmen …”