Sunday, 15 March 2015


Until 18 April 2015

To describe Russell Jeff, as an outsider artist is one way of saying that his art has yet to be absorbed by the thin veneer that is Sydney’s art word. Out here the sustained passion of his remarkable body of work stands “Enr Mally-like” oblivious to the mannered conventions of our art scene. Seemingly it is made up - out of nothing.

    Russell Jeff. Painting 2015, acrylic on board 100 x 250 cm

Russell Jeff invented this. And “this” sits a little uncomfortably out side what is usually considered art. While referring, perhaps unwittingly to both the natural world and the idea of art these collections of painted marks, these fastidiously arranged flicks and dots convey the emotional depth of a world known only to Russell Jeff.

Russel was adopted by a couple from Sutherland who lived there until 1968 when they moved to Sawtell near Coffs Harbour. Russel went on to leave school at 16. Worked as a labourer for a couple of years before joining the air force at 19 in 1978. They took Russell as a boy, 4 years later they gave Russell back - the man who went on working as a labourer along the north coast of New South Wales.  Then about 15 years ago he moved to Sydney. He was homeless for a while working at Flemington market. As he reached 50 illness struck, massive surgery to his stomach and bowel put him into “housing”, the department of housing flats around the corner from SLOT in Waterloo. For a while he had a job in a plastics factory in Gymea that lasted until Dollar hit parity with the US currency and since then, he’s been on the “rock and roll”.

 Russell Jeff. Painting (detail) 2015, acrylic on board 100 x 250 cm

It was Ken Harris who has a Sunday afternoon show on TVS about painting that Russell says inspired him to paint. He bought some brushes, found some materials and began.
Wanting to get a gauge on what he was doing he set up a display in the tunnel at central railway – a lady walked past and said I could even buy that. It was encouragement enough for Russell.

4 years later Russell Jeff has made the visionary journey to these works, which is the kind of journey that ennobles the human sprit.

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