Artist Profile: Anthony Breslin

Anthony Breslin’s accomplished and extensive practice is a high-energy, captivating cacophony of objects, colour, memory and emotion performed across canvas, large-scale murals, theatre and what he aptly calls his paint operas. Words by Rose of Sharon Leake.

With a career spanning a quarter of a century, Anthony Breslin knows a thing or two about a successful art practice. With more than 60 solo exhibitions under his belt (both international and national), countless group shows, commissions and residencies, Breslin is, as he says, gratefully busy. Breslin is a painter, though his practice reaches far further than the canvas, extending into drawing, assemblage, large-scale murals, public installations. And that’s not including his performance work, which has seen him design and direct many large-scale “paint-operas” (his term) and theatrical public performances. 

His theatrical works, both on and off canvas, are a cacophony of objects and colour, their often-manic arrangement a visualisation of memory and emotion. Breslin’s works build up a kind of momentum the more you look at them – their high energy and impulsiveness both charming and disarming.

“I don’t really need to seek inspiration,” he says. “It’s there in simply being alive, driven and curiously interacting with the world. Nothing comes from me, but everything comes through me.”

Take, for example, his work The Coming of Odious. Figures prance around the canvas, their large eyes and crooked semi-smiles draw you in, yet their bodies and hair protrude almost aggressively. Who are these figures? Something tells me that’s not so important: they are all of us, spun into Breslin’s dreamlike theatre.

In the face of adversity, Breslin has leant on his art practice even more. For the last eight years he has struggled with serious health challenges, yet his practice continues to grow stronger, its energy feeding him. 

“I am a committed work machine no matter my condition,” he says. “I work 2-3 days at my studio in Upwey with my assistant. I also have a drawing studio at home. Currently on the other days I am working on my next two books, which will be published by my wonderful publisher, Melbourne Books. I love working with my hands, though I feel the whole process in all its details is creative, my creative joy intimately is the physical labour side.”

Breslin is currently working on a new mural in St Kilda, Melbourne, along with a unique sculptural installation at Westhall Secondary College, with a slew of upcoming exhibitions and creative projects. He isn’t showing any signs of slowing down yet.

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