For 25 years Garry Jones taught painting and drawing at the art school of the University of Newcastle and participated in many exhibitions.
So I expected to find much that was familiar in his current solo exhibition at Art Systems Wickham, his first for many years.
It closes on Sunday.
However, although there are dozens of large and small variations on a linear theme, examples of a passionate minimalism, there are walls of a totally different aesthetic.
A series of long scroll-like bands, only about 30 centimetres high but many metres long, are progressions of much freer drawing, sweeping in long arcs of sinuous line.
Colour plays a role, but within a restricted range.
There are invocations of landscape, even floating figures.
It seems these mesmerising works are preliminary studies for a mural commissioned by New York University for its Washington Square campus between 1979 and 1981 when Garry Jones was studying for his Masters Degree.
They have survived 40 years without losing any of their vitality and reveal a great lyrical surge in an artist known for his restraint.
He has a wide acquaintance with the fabulous art collections in the major American museums, contributing to his highly developed form of linear abstraction.
As I anticipated, this huge showing of graphic works, much of it made very recently, is virtually theme and variations on a very basic structure, a vertical rectangle divided into ascending bands like a musical stave, interspersed by networks of tiny lines.
Colour plays a role, but within a restricted range. So does the constant use of recycled domestic textiles in place of canvas or linen.
This may sound restrictive - and of course it is.
But, within the intensely disciplined format, the artist can explore many of the alternative realities of non-representational abstraction.
They include qualities such as the contrast between horizontal and vertical, suggestion of thresholds between states of being and focus on the repetition of line and the meditative process that generates it.
This labour-intensive process may well recall the mark making of Aboriginal painting and rock engravings, in which the careful rows of dotting or the infinitely slow pecking away at a rock surface must become a form of meditation.
A major interest ever since Garry Jones first started teaching at the University in 1975 has been exploring and documenting the sites of Aboriginal rock engravings on the sandstone plateau beyond Wollombi, on the Great North Road west of Newcastle.
It apparently has one of the richest and most densely populated areas for Indigenous art in the country, rich in mythic creatures spread out on rock shelves, obvious sites for displaying ritual narrative.
Garry Jones established good relations with the custodians of this cultural wealth, to whom the stories and significance may be as remote, as lost in time, as they are to white anthropologists.
He has made it a mission to bring these sites to popular knowledge and has lectured about them in various scientific contexts.
It is tempting to look for a link to his creative work, with its slow and meditative approach to artmaking.
Did it contribute to his success as a teacher?
It seems incredible today, when the University Art School appears to be suffering from severe atrophy, that 30 to 40 years ago it was a vibrant learning environment with a large staff.
There were at least six professional painters offering students a wide choice of mentors.
Garry Jones, and with him John McGrath, provided insight into the visionary power of abstraction.
John Montefiore and Francis Celtlan, as we've seen in recent posthumous exhibitions, demonstrated the role of life drawing in figure compositions.
Peter Singleton's singular paintings had a heady symbolism. Aldona Zakarauskas dealt in insouciant collage.
Chris Ross hovered between direct representation and an elegant abstraction.
The students also had access to a paint laboratory, a brace of technicians and several tutors.
It was a golden age for students open to its opportunities.
Peter Gardiner is one such outstanding example. So is Lee Zaunders.
As the University of Newcastle appears to be evolving away from the arts as well as the humanist tradition, it would be a salutary project to mount an exhibition celebrating all that has disappeared.
It would bring back memories.
It would help to stop the past from totally disappearing.