Jeffrey Smart

Stop 31 of 32

A man, David Malouf, is the focal point of this painting. He is walking away holding onto an orange pipe rising from a small drain in the ground. In the background a row of bright shipping containers on trucks are parked in front of a tall building with 'Ovidio' painted along the top.

Jeffrey Smart
Portrait of David Malouf

Creation date: 1980

Portrait of David Malouf
1980 Tuscany, Italy
oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas
100 x 100 cm
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
Purchased 1983
© The Estate of Jeffrey Smart

In a 2021 interview, Australian writer David Malouf said: ‘There’s always a kind of playfulness about the way Jeff sees you when he’s painting a portrait … I’m projected, almost, against a white tower building, and at the top of that is written “OVIDIO” which is a reference to Ovid and to [Malouf’s 1978 publication] An imaginary life … and rising out of the top of my head a line of very square little thought bubbles … I’m wearing something … I’d never imagined wearing, which is a pair of overalls and espadrilles. I’m handling, goodness knows for what reason, a large pipe that is coming out of the ground. Jeff later said he was evoking my capacity to draw on chthonic [underworld] powers, but I think that was a kind of joke.’