Posted by: Debra Kolkka | November 23, 2022

John Rigby exhibition

This week I visited the exhibition of well known Australian artist, John Rigby. He was born in Brisbane in 1922 and began painting while he was a teenager. His work has been exhibited since 1941. His service in WWII offered him the opportunity to study in the East Sydney Technical College in 1948 until 1950 with fellow artist and friend Jon Molvig.

His career spanned more than 60 years. He was awarded many painting prizes from the 1950s to the early 1970s, including The Australian Women’s Weekly Art Prize, the H.C Richards Prize (Brisbane), the Sulman Prize (Sydney), the Melrose Prize (Adelaide.

As well as his art, he contributed to the arts community. He was a Trustee of the Queensland Art Gallery from 1967 to 1987. He acted as head of Fine Arts at Queensland College of Art from 1974 to 1984. In recognition for his services to the Arts he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Griffith University in 1994.

We were guided through his lifetime of painting by his daughter. What a lovely insight we were given, making the exhibition come alive for us.

He was inspired by his world wide travels. Some of my favourite paintings are of Italy, where he spent a couple of years in his early painting days. The dark colours reflected a country recovering from the war in the early 1950s.

His work became more colourful over the years, particularly with his Australian and South Sea Island work.


I particularly liked his Brisbane paintings.

His portraits often featured his wife.

This one is not his wife. This painting is enormous. I would love to have a space big enough to hold it.

John Rigby’s art was described by art historian Bernard Smith in 1964…”His art is for the most part joyous and frank, figurative painting full of air, light and colour”.

The John Rigby exhibition is on at the Royal Queensland Art Society Gallery at 3/162 Petrie Terrace, Brisbane. It finishes on 27th November, so there are a few days left to see it.


  1. Thank you for sharing your photos, I didn’t know that John Rigby painted in Italy, most enjoyable to see his paintings.

    • I love his Italian paintings.

  2. Enjoyed this artists wonderful, all of them. Much
    Wonderful paintings by this artist, made more intimate for you with his daughter’s guidance. I really liked all of them; dark, light and bright. Beautiful!! Like going to a gallery, this post, minus the trip and the crowds. Thank YOU. Again.

    • It was great to have a guided tour of the exhibition.

  3. Wonderful paintings. Thank you for sharing.

    • It is a great exhibition.

  4. Good painting of artist Pat Hoffie (background of textiles)

    • I really liked that one!

  5. Was lovely being able to walk you around the Exhibition and i hope many others get to see it before if finishes this Sunday. Thank you for sharing, Regards Renee.

    • Thank you for being such a great guide.

  6. Thanks Deb for showing us the John Rigby Exhibition. Just wonderful. My heart sank though when I saw the closing date as I had been thinking I must get to see this.

    • There are still a couple of days left to see the exhibition.

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