Used art as a method of expressive self-exploration. 'I paint in order to see.'
His artworks moved from being political protests to being focussed on the not-so-quiet intimacies of his private life. "Politics, travel, social consciousness, self-analysis, philosophical speculation and youth took second place to one over-riding obsession - to paint pictures of beauty." (Brett Whiteley, by Sandra McGrath, 1979)
Experimented with different, mind-altering drugs to influence his art-making.
Greatly influenced by Francis Bacon.
Towards the end of his career he moved to painting more still lifes, the more anti-social he became, the more interested he was in inanimate, inhuman objects.
His paintings often verged upon the sadly disturbing and deperate or outrageously humourous as his health declined + he became more demoralised. Where he once believed his paintings could change the world (eg. American Life), he tried to grapple with the contradictions in what he believed (ie.
complete political restructure) + what he had become (a highly sought after + highly paid artist with a valuable house, swimming pool expensive car etc).
His paintings were designed to provoke a very strong emotional response from the viewer, either positive or negative.
Many of his artworks included images of sex, violence, social themes.
Interesting portrayal of Australian culture - not always positive, however, it is his paintings that depict Australia in a positive light - Australia as a beach paradise etc - that are most often glorified. These paintings, for example The Beach, were often misunderstood, as they were commenting on the materialistic/consumer nature of modern Australian society
Whiteley saw Australia as being in it's political infancy, and believed that until Australia forged a more equal relationship with the rest of Asia, it would be doomed. He drove this point home through the use of...