an humble admiration of bruce petty's work...
I admire Bruce Petty.
He is quite older than I am, yet he has a far superior satirical contemporary expression than I can muster. Bruce Petty's brush or pen or finger is all over the place like an annoying fly we chase with an Aussie salute. But the flight path of the lines is but than random as we soon discover the cutting purpose of the graffiti-like penmanship.
The relationship between reality and the image explodes like a series of World War I shells falling on sleepy troops playing Blackadder's get-me-outta-here in the trenches. It rattles windows and it plunges in our bath-tubs, making a tidal wave from Sydney to Perth. If I was Julia Morris I would use the word "delicious" whatever this would mean.
From our suburbia to our government's spooky theatrics, we travel with Bruce Petty on the unicycles of our hypocritical prejudices, while thinking we're smug at the wheel of our latest Merc or our Toyota ute with Bluey in the tray.
Crikey!, I have heard, is looking for a new cartoonist as it lost "The First Dog on the Moon" to the Guardian... I would suggest to Crikey!'s mob, for krissake, hire Bruce Petty or get permission rights to reproduce in full all his 1960s drawings of Australia's life on all levels, which are as true now as they were then. Possibly more relevant now since we had time to "evolve" on the same average spot.
I do not have the time to do more than what's on offer on this site. It takes too much energy to crank it up.
See, Bruce Petty's work appears to come from an obsessed genius philosopher who can draw quick and be a knife-throwing poet at the same time — with an irrationally controlled-hand, that a computer would mutilate.
Computers "normalise" everything. They reduce time, matter and energy into blancmange bytes in which the fun is often absorbed like blotting paper absorbs a splutter of ink. And a computer makes me lazy. It's comfortable to know that mine is the keeper of my memory and knowledge, as I remember little and know peanuts. Without the computer, I would be prodding a stick to collect greasy waste paper thrown by tossers on park lawns, which to some extend could be better than being dazzled by a screen scroll.
Sometimes, I dream of being obsessed with vitriolic angry black lines but only end up waking up lazy as usual... I must be having "better other things to do" during the day. So I recycle a lot — including faces, jackets and ties.
In order to achieve this "Petty" look one would need to defocus on the precision and shoot with unrestrained trained imagination and a proper free-hand. One needs to also be on familiar terms with the weapons of choice, the pen or the whatever tool and the blank page.
A blank page can be daunting for many authors, but rarely to the energised doodler with a sharp sense of observed cultural decadence "in growth like a canker". But I suppose, without this decadence, there would be no Bruce Petty burning pens on sheets of drawing paper.
If I may indulge here, something to my detriment is that, in my toons, I have mostly chosen to play "the man", not the ball... It's more dangerous because when these "men" (and women too) have the ball, they usually try to fudge, obfuscate, lie and/or push like thick 300-pounds rugby props through a threesome of nerds with glasses.
I suppose I'd deserve a red card for this, but as usual there is no referee to see that THE MONGRELS DESERVED A RED CARD WAY BEFORE ME.
So I must become the referee and kick then in the balls...
Bruce Petty deserves far more recognition in this country for the crunching visions that he gives us. Please do not give him an OAM (he might have one?) or such gong because he deserves better than that. The Aussie medals are still unfortunately tied up to the imperial system and saint-hoods are too religious for comfort despite all the miracles Bruce Petty has performed with a tarred brush.
May be he should be honoured in the Australian Treasure hall of fame with Leonardo, Michaeangelo and Spike Milligan. But he might hate that too. Bruce Petty seems to be his own man. Appreciation of his work may the best medal he could receive.
Image at top shot from his book "Petty's Australia fair" published in 1967 (republished 1976 as Petty's AUSTRALIA — and how it works)