Gleeson himself said that he has never believed that art should be limited to "what is conventionally considered beautiful … I think art should be all-embracing: it should cover every aspect of existence and that includes what you technically call ugliness, terror, fear and anxiety. I think it's all part of life. I was born in the second year of the First World War; then there was the atmosphere of the '30s when you knew there was going to be another war. The idea of war and destruction has always been part of existence."
I imagine that the title must refer to the prophet Hosea's strictures on the Israelites' warring with the neighbours: "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind." (Not a lot has changed in two thousand years!)
I stood there quietly like a rabbit caught in the headlights – the woman next to me was muttering "Whooo, whooo…" and feebly waving her hands like someone practising the breaststroke. She obviously needed a negatively geared chocolate biscuit.
In 1947 Gleeson went abroad and absorbed the works of the old masters. His work in the 'fifties was inspired and influenced by what he saw, and also by poetry and history. One recognises the influence of Turner in the glowing light effects that he uses in some works.
He incorporates self-portraits in some of his works, and says that he never paints anyone else: he did a portrait of his sister once, but it is not good to paint other people, "because they are never satisfied. If you paint only yourself, you have only yourself to satisfy."
Not all the pictures were the stuff of nightmares: there were some extraordinarily beautiful works. I was delighted by "Clouds of witness" (1966), in which nude figures are floating in clouds and in water, tucked into niches and reclining on beaches, all among swirls of luminous gold, white and blue.
This is such a magnificent body of work, it is very hard to choose which to single out, but I finally have to mention "The Colonists Arrive" (1998) which intrigued me particularly. It shows a beach on which a small red fire is burning – the only bright touch in the picture. Just offshore is a large oyster shell with an eye looking out from it. Drifting in to make landfall, floating just above the water, are pale phantasms vaguely resembling mythical creatures. I imagined the indigenous folks who had been sitting round that fire, now standing fearfully a safe distance away, seeing for the first time creatures whose colour, dress and demeanour must have seemed to them just as exotic as Gleeson's arriving chimeras do to me.
An excellent book, with lots of colour plates, by Renee Free, is "James Gleeson - Images from the Shadows."