I think that there was always the hope that it could influence the way people thought about war. That it could alert people to its horrors and prevent it occurring again. You see, I was born during the First World War in 1915, and my earliest experiences were with people who were in that war or remembered the war very vividly, and then, just when I was beginning to paint, the Second World War began. So war became a kind of lurking terror in my mind from infancy through to late adolescence, when it was all building up again for another one.
During the 1950s and '60s he moved to a more symbolic perspective, notions of human perfectibility. At this time he increasingly fashioned small psychedelic compositions made using the surrealist technique of decalcomania in the background, to suggest a landscape, and finished by adding a fastidiously painted male nude in the foreground. Many of his paintings had homoerotic undertones, something which reflected on Gleeson's own homosexuality.The ideas for these compositions also saw Gleeson move into collage with his Locus Solus series, where he produced a substantial body of work by placing dismembered photographs, magazine illustrations, diagrams and lines of visionary poetry against abstract pools of ink.
His retrospective in 2004-2005, Beyond the Screen of Sight, included 120 paintings and was exhibited in Melbourne and Canberra. The Art Gallery of New South Wales exhibited Gleeson's drawings for paintings in 2003 and The Ubu diptych in 2005 to celebrate Gleeson's 90th birthday.The Ubu diptych is regarded as one of his greatest.In September 2007, the largest collection of Australian surrealism ever collected was donated to the National Gallery of Australia by Ray Wilson. The collection included various works by James Gleeson.Wikipedia