I have had a massive crush on Robert Hughes for most of my life. Reading Shock of the New when I was thirteen set in stone that I was an artist. Now that he has passed my crush on him has not eased off but rather intensified.
I never met him. In the first year I moved to New York I mailed him a letter & a copy of my book THE DIVINE MISTAKE. Maybe it never got to him, maybe he threw it out. I do not know. The small reach to him was big for me as my focus is always on the bones of my painting becoming fleshed.
But in reading his work, crying with his words that lashed my heart with the brutal truth – history, ours “A Fatal Shore” – telling the cold hard facts like poetry – honey & the sting, I felt him, me, us our heritage, nothing blushed over. At Robert Hughes’ heart was the courage of a true artist or rather when there is no fear there is no need for courage. “Art is a lie that tells the truth”, writes Picasso. Writing history is the truth that blows out your heart and switches on your spirit.
For many Aussies it was far easier to ditz this great man as un-Australian or on a high-horse, the fact was he was far above our piddling notions of freedom, that progress treadmill most of us are caught on.
New York has a quality; it allows you to be who you are without owning you.
Now he is gone I feel we can finally meet.