William Johnstone

Celebration of Earth, Air, Fire and Water

About this artwork

This work was painted in the spring of 1974, during a burst of creativity in which the artist stated that he worked ‘with tremendous speed, almost unconsciously’. Inspired by the spirit of springtime growth and renewal, Johnstone made the work by pouring paint onto the canvas, radiating from a circular shape at the centre of the canvas. The work exudes energy and life due to the combination of rich, vibrant colours used to represent the elements, and the dynamic method of painting. Such was the effort it took, the artist explained, ‘I was completely drained, emptied of all emotion and what further painting I did that year was dull, without life.’ On its completion, the painting was immediately purchased by the Gallery of Modern Art.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
  • title:
    Celebration of Earth, Air, Fire and Water
  • date created:
    Dated 1974
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • measurements:
    137.20 x 242.00 cm
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Purchased 1974
  • accession number:
    GMA 1313
  • gallery:
  • subject:
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve
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William Johnstone

William Johnstone