John Olsen has said that his new exhibition, Recent Works, which opened last week at the Olsen Gallery in Sydney, may be his last. But that doesn’t mean the 91-year-old Australian artist is about to put down his brush.

“He’s painting right now,” his son Tim Olsen tells Limelight. “He’s in the studio every day. He says, to stop painting for me would be like to stop breathing.”

John Olsen John Olsen in the studio. Photo © Ken Redpath

Tim, who is the founder and director of the Olsen Gallery, shares that his father was stopped on the street in Bowral, near where he lives, just the other day. “Some man said to him, ‘are you still painting?’ and he looked at him and he said, ‘Of course I am, what do you expect me to be doing, walking around a golf course?’”

“The thing about John is that he just works away every day for the love of art,” Tim says. “It’s his saviour, it’s his existence, it’s his nourishment, it’s his meditation.”

As for the inspiration behind this latest exhibition, it was all rather spontaneous, Tim explains. “He rang me and said, ‘look, I’ve...