John Coburn had an abiding interest in the Australian landscape. Its inspiration ranged from the lush, green tropics of North Queensland, where he was born, through the Outback and into the Northern Territory, as he imbued each painting with the feel and spirit of the place. Primordial Garden, 1965-66, in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, is a major example of the former, while Sun Ritual, 1983, through its forms and colours of the ancient earth, blends Aboriginal references with Coburn’s own closeness to the land.
Always interested in making large works, the mural-like dimensions of Coburn’s Sun Ritual give it a surprising intimacy in that they draw the viewer into it. Placement, space and edges are as central to the painting’s success as the references to the pulsating sun, plains and distant mountain ranges. Coburn, too, was a master of visual drama.
signed lower right, inscribed Paris and dates 1971 verso
57.2 x 76.8cm
Private Collection, Auckland; International Art Centre, Auckland , Lot No. 1; Private Collection, Sydney
Creature was painted when Coburn was working on the major tapestry, Curtain of the Sun, which was commissioned in 1970 for the Sydney Opera House. Taking three years to weave while he was living in Aubusson, France this fine Coburn relates closely to the magnificent Opera House tapestry with its striking colours, form and pleasing composition.