Dragon boat

Born Belgium 1896, arrived Australia 1921, died Adelaide 1979


Henri Bastin is regarded as a pioneer of naïve painting in Australia. Following his arrival from Belgium, Bastin worked in rural Australia as a labourer, on a camel mail service between Broken Hill and South Australia, and as an opal miner.

Stylistically Bastin’s paintings were influenced by the aesthetic approach of French naïve artist Douanier Rousseau (1844–1910) incorporating unusual perspectives, exaggerated colour and fanciful subjects. His work began to be exhibited in Melbourne in the 1950s, initially at Brummel’s Gallery and then at the Museum of Modern Art in 1958. In 1977 the Victorian Tapestry Workshop reproduced one of his paintings as a large tapestry.

His work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Queensland Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, the Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, the Adelaide Festival Centre and other public and private institutions.