David Aspden is considered one of Australia’s foremost ‘colour-field’ abstraction painters. Gaining prominence in the 1960s he continued painting up until his death in 2005. Inspired by colour, music and landscape, this monumental painting is one of the finest examples of the artist’s mastery at conveying the relationships between these themes.
The composition is a visual melody that gently shifts as the eye focuses on the changing areas of colour. Similar to the Jazz music he loved, the lyrical approach to his painting is emphasised in Pennant Hills by the energetic gestural marks that dance across the canvas. Aspden worked cleverly with the harmony and collision of colours, conveyed in the subject work with softs hues of cool mauves and purples juxtaposed with warm tones of pinks and reds.
Sotheby’s, Modern and Contemporary, Sydney, March 2005, lot 60;
Company collection, Sydney;
Deutscher Hackett, Important Australian and International Fine Art, Sydney, April 2019, lot 55;
Private collection, Sydney
“Yvonne Audette holds a unique position in twentieth century Australian art as one of the few female artists of her generation to have maintained a long and successful career working in an abstract mode. She left Australia to further her studies in late 1952, however unlike most of her peers, headed to New York, influenced by her American-born parents’ agreement to provide financial support if she went there rather than to Europe. While her training had been traditionally academic, with an emphasis on the figure, Audette’s first-hand exposure to the work of artists including Willem de Kooning (whose studio she visited in 1953), Robert Motherwell and Mark Tobey brought her face to face with the burgeoning New York School of Abstract Expressionist painting and she began to move confidently towards abstraction, developing a unique visual language that merged a lyrical use of colour with dextrous mark-making and the textural layering of line and abstract form.
After travelling in Europe, Audette settled in Florence, establishing a studio there in 1955. Against the backdrop of Italy’s rich culture and artistic past, she was welcomed into a community of professional artists (including Arnaldo Pomodoro and Lucio Fontana), who encouraged her and provided an aspirational example. Focussed and determined, Audette worked hard, holding commercial exhibitions in Florence, Milan, Paris, Rome and London.
While Audette’s work was rarely seen in Australia during her expatriate years, it has since been recognised for its important contribution to the history of twentieth century art in this country. Acquisitions by major public galleries were followed by a series of institutional exhibitions – Queensland Art Gallery (1999), Heide Museum of Modern Art (2000), National Gallery of Victoria (2008), Ian Potter Museum of Art (2009) and the Art Gallery of Ballarat (2016) – and the publication of a major monograph in 2003.
Audette was awarded Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the June 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for significant service to the visual arts as an abstract painter.”
– Kirsty Grant for Deutscher and Hackett, April 2019
Purchased Macquarie Galleries, c. 1962
Private collection, Sydney, c. 1962 – 2014
Private collection, Melbourne, 2014 – present
In exposing the vastness of the landscape Boyd has managed to capture a beauty in its stillness. This particularly fine representation of the Wimmera displays a soft palette and painterly surface. Its subtle focal points, with darting birds in the foreground and grazing cattle in the middle‐ground, guide the eye into the composition, distilling the essence of place.
Boyd first encountered the Wimmera region in the 1940s and like generations of painters before him, was intrigued by the immensity of its landscape. He was drawn back to this, one of his favourite subjects, throughout the years. It is the works from this earlier period, however, that are among his most accomplished and desirable.
photograph signed by photographer’s son Rex Dupain in pencil in authentication stamp on backing verso
29.9 x 24.7cm
“Dupain’s people photographs of the 1930s and 1940s, taken on Sydney’s most popular beaches, Bondi and Manly, show Australians in the prime of their relationship with their beaches. Money was tight and the beach was free, a relaxing sense of propriety was allowing more freedom in dress and conduct, work hours were accommodating and electronic entertainment hadn’t begun to keep youth indoors. It was an environment rich with possibilities for Dupain, at ease on the beach both as an attractive athlete and a photographer nurturing an inner voice which, he wrote, would spontaneously ‘call out …. and behold, there [the picture] is’.
In a time when the outback dominated intellectual concepts of Australian identity, Dupain was photographing a beach mythology far more real to most Australians than the wide dry spaces of the inland. Few Australians lack light infused memories of a beach and long lost hours spent between cool, turbulent water and warm, quiet sand.”
Jill White, Dupain’s Beaches, Chapter & Verse, 2000, p. 74
Wynne Prize Finalist Award, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2001
Ildiko Kovacs’ magnificent painting entitled Escarpment was a finalist in the Wynne Prize in 2001. This fine example of her early work reveals a strong sculptural presence and vibrates with rich energy and passion. Ildiko’s work demonstrates a masterful grasp of paint’s materiality, with a bold and direct application of line and colour. She has a dazzling ability to sculpt line as if it were a three-dimensional form rendered flat. A number of these earlier and pivotal works open a dialogue between western traditions of abstraction and indigenous art.
Works by Ildiko Kovacs are held in National Gallery of Australia; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; Art Gallery of New South Wales; Newcastle Regional Art Gallery; Allen Arthur Robinson Collection; Artbank; Bathurst Regional Art Gallery; Campbelltown City Arts Centre; Gold Coast City Art Gallery; Hamilton Art Gallery, Victoria; Macquarie Bank; Maitland Regional Art Gallery; National Gallery of Australia; National Gallery of Victoria; Riddoch Art Institute; World Bank, Washington DC, USA; Visy Corp, Melbourne; Various private collections
Art Los Angeles Contemporary, Los Angeles, US, 25-28 January, 2018
Berlin-based Canadian artist Beth Letain engages with the history of colour and abstraction. While her works feel minimalist compositionally, they are vivid with strong colour painted on white canvas. Letain’s geometric structures are harmonious and rhythmic, referencing Agnes Martin, Mary Heilmann and the Bauhaus theories of colour. This work is of magnificent scale with lashings of oil and rich pigment, so characteristic of the artist’s style. Her works are simple and enduring.
Private collection, Australia;
Bridget McDonnell Gallery, Melbourne (label attached verso);
Sotheby’s, New York, 31 October 1984, lot 143;
Severn Family Foundation Collection;
Bonhams, Important Australian Art, 24 August 2021, lot 71;
Private collection, Sydney
Dr Karen Helms, Christopher Day Gallery, Paddington;
The Estate of the Late Peter Morris, Sydney;
Private collection, Sydney
Autumn Exhibition 1989, Christopher Day Gallery, Paddington, Cat. No. 4
Born in Armidale, NSW in 1879, Thea Proctor was one of the best-known Australian women painters of her time. Studying in both Sydney and London, Proctor exhibited painted fans, inspired largely by the works of Charles Conder, at the 1907 Women’s Work exhibition in Venice. Upon her return to Australia she helped form The Contemporary Group with G.W. Lambert in order to encourage younger avant-garde painters. Her beautiful pictures underpinned Sydney Modernism throughout the 1920s, and in her later life she did a great deal to bring attention to the work of her cousin, John Peter Russell.
Ben Quilty recalls he conceived this painting as something of a mask – a Captain Cook mask the artist himself could put on to imagine the world through the eyes of the famous 18th century explorer. Having read extensively through Cook’s diaries, Quilty became fascinated by the man’s initial self belief, an attitude that doubtless contributed to him becoming one of maritime history’s most famous navigators, astronomers and sailors. With the passage of time however, Quilty observed violent changes in Cook’s behaviour toward both his crew and the native populations he encountered.
Cook’s bouts of extreme violence, Quilty along with others postulates, was due in large part to debilitating and personality changing gut conditions, the result of chronic disease. In analysing this change the artist states that ‘Mask’ looks at ‘…the good, the bad and the ugly’. The rorschach technique employed is perfect, providing a multiple image which delves into the human psyche, a reflection and investigation of James Cook the man, and his changing psychological states.
Collection of the artist;
Private collection, Queensland
A magical feeling for the spirit of place combines with a grand vision of the ocean and adjacent landscape in this large scale, light-filled work. Here the artist, as expressed in his own words, invites the viewer ‘…to live in the vision itself.’ The Robinsons purchased a retreat near Byron Bay in 2005 and the paintings from this area are both rare and among the artist’s finest.
The beautifully detailed foreground foliage in the present picture demonstrates aptly William Robinson’s exceptional skills as a colourist, and in the rendering of the ocean his ability to capture extraordinary effects with clarity of light.
Of his solo exhibition at the Ray Hughes Gallery in 1994, critic John MacDonald stated ’Robinson is the only non-Aboriginal artist since Fred Williams and John Olsen to give… an entirely new view on the Australian landscape’.
William Robinson is represented widely in public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia; Australian university collections; Parliament House, Canberra; many Australian regional galleries; Artbank; Museum of Brisbane and State Library Queensland; all Australian mainland state collections; and internationally in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Vatican Museum, Vatican City; the Auckland Art Gallery and Waikato Art Museum, Hamilton in New Zealand.
One of the first two Indigenous artists to represent Australia at the 1990 Venice Biennale, Rover Thomas’ works sparked a greater appreciation of Aboriginal art, both nationally and internationally.
A desert man, the story of his life is interwoven with that of the Canning Stock Route. Thomas was born in the 1920s and raised in the Country around its middle stretches. At an early age he was picked up by a drover, Wally Dowling, and taken north to Billiluna and the Kimberley. He became a stockman himself, and eventually married and settled at Turkey Creek. There, in the 1970s, he pioneered the East Kimberley school of ochre painting on canvas.
The Collection of Frank Watters, Sydney (Watters Gallery 14/25/002 on verso)
Tony Tuckson Figurative Paintings, Watters Gallery, 30 September – 18 October, 2014, Cat no. 2
Tuckson undertook his final year of study in 1949 at East Sydney Technical College under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme for exservicemen. The figurative works from this period, through to the mid- 1950s, are among Tuckson’s most accomplished – they are raw, painterly and powerful. Each is masterfully constructed. While the influences of Picasso, Modigliani and Klee are apparent, the artist cited his two most inspiring mentors at the time to be Grace Crowley and Ralph Balson. Both these artists taught him briefly with their weekly classes in abstraction at East Sydney.
Estate of the artist, Sydney. Thence by descent; Frannie Hopkirk, New South Wales, the artist’s sister; Private collection, Sydney, acquired from the above in 1997; Deutscher and Hackett, Australian + International Fine Art and Aboriginal Art, Sydney, 30/11/2016, Lot No. 81; Private collection, Sydney
‘The purpose of drawing is to make freshness permanent to trigger astonishment.”
Brett Whiteley ,1985
This serene work by Whiteley was created in the early 1980s. The tonality and layering of the inks demonstrate aptly the artist’s growing interest in calligraphic brush stroke techniques. Whiteley was fascinated with both eastern philosophies and painting techniques during this period of his oeuvre. Stylistically, Brett Whiteley’s Lake in Bali (Lake Kintamani) references traditional Chinese painting. In Chinese tradition mountains buzz with the energy of qi, draw rain clouds to the rice fields and provide shelter to the Immortals. Compositionally, this ‘one-corner’ picture gently leads the gaze away from the corner of the frame.