Creative Cauldron - Michael Leunig

Friday, September 16, 2011

Artist inspiration and artist influences. No biographies, dates or scholarly research here - this is a personal response to the work of Michael Leunig by Australian artist Fiona Morgan.

Michael Leunig cartoon

In the same way as it is normal here in Australia (or at least in Melbourne) to have a tin of beetroot in vinegar and a jar of vegemite in the back of your cupboard (guilty as charged), it is also standard issue to have a Leunig cartoon stuck to the fridge.

Michael Leunig cartoon

There's good reason for this.

Most cartooning is observation of the world packaged into a humourous form. Some cartoonists observe the amusing habits of pets and their owners. Some take the piss out of our politicians and despin their carefully woven tales for us.

Michael Leunig cartoon

Every now and then there is a cartoonist who holds the mirror up to our collective internal lives, look into our souls and tell us what we are really doing and feeling. Part shaman, part comedian, part artist.

Michael Leunig cartoon

In the same way that I admire Tom Roberts for his ability to tap into the collective unconscious and then distill this into pictures that become part of our national identity, I admire Leunig's similar ability in cartoon form to really clearly see, capture and show us ourselves.

Michael Leunig cartoon
Mr Curly sees 'The Great Impressionists' at the National Gallery in Canberra

All with a good dash of the famed Aussie irreverence....From the NGV website, "One of the most irreverent and clever reinterpretations of Shearing the rams is Ramming the shears, 1984 by Michael Leunig. Leunig is an astute observer of Australian society. His witty reinterpretation of Roberts’s paintings is both humourous and thought provoking in the questions it raises about Australian national identity. Ramming the shears first appeared in Leunig’s regular spot in ‘The Age’, but it gained wider circulation in 1985 when it was used on the cover of a book of Leunig’s cartoons."

Michael Leunig cartoon
Ramming the Shears

For me, it's all about the ideas. Soulful, gentle, enlightening, frighteningly accurate.

Michael Leunig cartoon

Filled with truths to contemplate,

Michael Leunig cartoon
and reflections on how to live, not just exist.

Michael Leunig cartoon

More links to Michael Leunig

Leunig has numerous books published of collected cartoons, as well as paintings, etchings, prints and interviews. Everything is accessible from his website:

About the Creative Cauldron series of posts

Creative Cauldron - artistic influences & inspiration for Australian artist Fiona MorganThe Creative Cauldron series of posts explores and showcases the visual styles, techniques, attitudes, ideas, artists and paintings that have had the most impact on me. 

The rest of the series is accessible via the Creative Cauldron page. Have a meander if you please, and remember to check out my artworks on Flickr, and have an insider peek at life as an artist on Facebook.

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