The beautiful landscapes of John Borrack

Jane featured John Borrack in a lovely post in April 2020 about contemporary Australian artists click here.

But recently I discovered that a friend of mine has an original of John’s paintings, and a beautiful coffee table book, both of which I was captivated by. So, I want to show you a little bit more of his work.

John Borrack is a significant Australian landscape artist who has travelled the country recording the extraordinary beauty of its land forms. His work captures the vastness and spirituality of the unique Australian landscapes of deserts, mountains, rock formations and coastal scenes.

Born in Melbourne in 1933, John grew up appreciating the open spaces of living on the (then) outskirts of suburbia. He started experimenting with watercolours in his late teens, and then took formal evening classes in drawing, oils and watercolours whilst also studying for his Primary Teacher’s Certificate. He went on to complete an Associate Diploma of Fine Art, RMIT (Painting and Drawing) in 1960 and a Fellowship Diploma of Fine Art, RMIT (Painting and Drawing) in 1972. 1

John earned his living as a lecturer in Painting and Drawing at Melbourne State College (University of Melbourne) from 1969 to 1982 and then decided to become an artist full time. He has studied and painted extensively in France, Spain, U.K, Italy and the USA at various times from 1964 to 1995. 1

John’s early works reflected various artistic influences, particularly cubism, J.M. W. Turner, and the French post-impressionist Paul Cezanne, described in an article on John’s website. John was particularly attracted to the watercolours of Cezanne and the drama and tonal contrasts of Turner’s works.

John was particularly drawn to working en plein air (outdoors), and over many years travelled extensively around Australia, capturing outback scenes of Central Australia, the Flinders Ranges, the Top End, the Kimberley as well as rugged coastlines.

He has held over 70 solo exhibitions and participated in many group exhibitions around the world. His work is displayed in many galleries, local government and corporate collections around Australia.

John continues to paint in his studio at home in the north of Melbourne. John’s website 1 describes his work today as follows:

John Borrack is something of a maverick, a man who has dedicated the last sixty years of his life to the pursuit of a pure, spiritual expression.

Working predominantly in watercolour and gouache he has balanced the needs of technique and theory with a clarity of emotional expression that borders on an obsession with communicating the spiritual experience of his reactions to the landscape as he sees and feels it.

His works capture an immediate sense of their unique locales. They freeze in time fleeting moments as light plays on forms and texture. They are vibrant, atmospheric and iconic images that speak of a supreme nature, often wild and untainted by the hand of man. They isolate a totality of experience that goes well beyond the given facts presented by a literal view of the scene.

I highly recommend you spend some time looking at the gallery of works which appear on John’s website here. I am sure you will feel the sense of space, distance, peacefulness and spirituality as described above.


With thanks to

  2. The incredibly beautiful book “In praise of landscape: The art of John Borrack” by Lucy Grace Ellem. Published by MacMillan, 2012

All images published with the kind permission of John Borrack