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Colin (Col) George JORDAN (b.1935) - SMALL STUDY

Colin (Col) George JORDAN (b.1935)

Colin George Jordan (known as Col) was born in Merrylands, Sydney in 1935. After finishing school at Homebush Boys High School, he initially worked as a clerk in a bank. Not enjoying this work, he left the bank training to be a teacher at Balmain Teachers’ College from 1954 to 1955. Then, whilst working as a primary school teacher, he studied a Bachelor of Arts in English and History at Sydney University, graduating in 1963. Jordan moved to Wollongong as a teacher in 1963.

He lectured at the Wollongong Institute of Education from 1970 to 1974. Returning to Sydney, Jordan was assistant director at the City Art Institute from 1982 to 1987 and, from 1991 to 1994, Professor and Associate Dean at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. After retiring, he was appointed an Honorary Visiting Professor by that institution and the title of Emeritus Professor was conferred on him by the Council of The University of New South Wales in 1996. He currently lives in Sydney and continues to explore geometric abstraction. *

Although Jordan had no formal art training, he was always interested in drawing and painting as a child and, during his time in Wollongong, he became involved in the arts scene and was encouraged by an artist friend, Bill Peascod, to experiment with being a painter and sculptor. After winning a local art prize, he began to think about the possibility of exhibiting more widely. **

Jordan held his first solo exhibition at Watters Gallery in Sydney in 1966. He exhibited in the Mildura Sculpture Triennial in 1967, 1970 and 1973. In 1968, his works were included in the momentous landmark exhibition The Field at The National Gallery of Victoria which brought to the public view the colour field painting and abstract sculpture works of young Australian artists influenced by American hard-edge abstraction techniques. Since then he has exhibited widely in more than 40 solo and group exhibitions throughout Australia and in New Zealand, the Pacific, Japan, America and Europe. In 2009, Col’s works were included in the group exhibition After the Field: Complementing the concurrent at The Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Peter Pinson Gallery in Sydney, a reflection on the later works by some of the original Colour Field artists. In 2011, Wollongong City Gallery mounted the retrospective Col Jordan: An Active Edge. In 2018, Col recreated his original artwork, Daedalus Series 5, (after the original was destroyed) for The Field Revisited, a recreation of The Field exhibition by The National Gallery of Victoria for its 50th anniversary. ***

Jordan has won many prizes and awards including the Flotta Lauro Travelling Art Scholarship to Italy in 1971.

After being sent a catalogue from the Museum of Modern Art in New York’s exhibition of perceptual and optical art, The Responsive Eye, in 1965, and with the introduction of acrylic paint to Australia, Jordan was inspired to become one of the first Australian painters to work in the style of op art and geometric abstraction, creating shaped canvases and sculptures in intense colours and simplified form.

Unlike some other exhibitors at The Field, Jordan has continued to work in hard-edge abstraction throughout his career, adapting his “crisp formal colour painting to different themes or series”, including numbers, shapes and Celtic knot design. Jordan has said: “It’s a source of great delight for me that despite the fact that these exhibitions had their separate themes, I don't think there's anyone who could mistake a work of mine, for work by anybody else. In other words, there's a consistency that runs through them.” ****

Jordan explains the partnership of colour and geometry throughout his work as stemming from “the sheer delight I derive from the versatility of what some mistakenly believe to be an unyielding and rigorous combination of visual elements. For me, colour and geometric form can be light and optimistic or darkly passionate, depending on the skill of the artist. Because of this, there are endless possibilities to be explored. At the same time, the visual ambiguities created by the interaction of geometric forms are a constant enticement to try and solve unsolvable, and therefore delightful, puzzles. So the senses and the mind are engaged in a single enterprise.” *****

Jordan’s works are held in Collections across Australia, including the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Queensland Art Gallery and many other regional galleries, corporate, university and significant private Collections throughout Australia as well as in Singapore, Indonesia, New Zealand, the USA and Germany.

* Biography, Art of Col Jordan ** Peter Pinson interviews Col Jordan, Cultural Conversations, September 2013 *** Col Jordan, The Field Revisited Artwork Labels, p. 114 **** Peter Pinson interviews Col Jordan, Cultural Conversations, September 2013 ***** Col Jordan, Geoform curated by Julie Karabenick


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