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.
Private collection, Peru;
Sotheby’s, Important Australian Art, Sydney, 09/04/2019, Lot No. 79;
Private collection, Australia
Reflections by Charles Blackman, The Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane, 14-31
August 1966, no. 5
The Road, a dreamlike and lyrical painting by Charles Blackman was created in 1966 upon the artist’s return to Australia from London. During his time in Europe, Blackman had mingled and worked with other expatriate Australian artists including Arthur Boyd, Brett Whiteley and Fred Williams.
The 1960s saw the rise of abstract expressionism and with it, a vehement rejection by its major exponents of more figurative artistic practices. This in turn was a major factor in the formation of the Antipodean group, founded by academic and historian Bernard Smith. This movement reacted against the perceived emergence of a “fanatical devotion to the principles of abstract art and a rising intolerance of figurative painting,”1 that had taken hold of Sydney’s art scene. Their manifesto asserted their right to draw inspiration from life, nature and their surroundings, central to which was the importance of recognisable imagery, stressing too the importance of artistic diversity.
Like many of Blackman’s paintings, The Road is notable for its balance of simplicity and richness inviting reflection and contemplation.
1. Bernard Smith, Australian Painting 1788 – 1970, Melbourne, Oxford
University Press, 1971, p. 326
Freda Brady’s Seven Sisters relates to the Kungkarangkalpa tjukurpa story. This story involves the Seven Sisters being chased across country by a villainous shapeshifter and tells of their travels as they protect each other from his tricks. It’s a story that is sacred to Anangu culture, with an underlying message concerning familial bonds, ceremonial landmarks and culture; knowledge of rock hole sites is passed from generation to generation and revered by all Anangu.
Shapiro Auctioneers, Australian and International Art incl. Chinese Contemporary Art from the Estate of Ray Hughes Session I, Sydney, 25 May 2021, Lot No. 47;
Private collection, Sydney
Dorothy Mary Braund is one of Australia’s most renowned female modernist artists. Her fascination with both everyday and public rituals of Australian culture inspired her most celebrated works. Bathers is an exquisitely composed example of a highly familiar scene, namely groups at the beach in Australia.
Braund trained at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School under William Rowell and Charles Wheeler, and later under the school’s first modernist teacher, Alan Sumner. Following her graduation she went on to study at the George Bell School, which had a major influence on her subsequent work. She developed a strong style expressed with a simplicity of colour, form and surface.
Braund stated in 1994: “I’ve always been knocked out by simplicity. To me it’s got such impact; far more than anything fussy, because you have to get it right. There’s no chance for accidental effects. If you are simple everything has to relate and work.”1 Braund’s paintings are in the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Victoria, the Queensland Art Gallery, Monash University Museum of Art and the Cruthers’ Collection of Women’s Art.
1. McCulloch, Alan and Susan (1994). The Encyclopedia of Australian Art -Revised and Updated. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
In 2016 the world renowned South African artist William Kentridge undertook the creation of a 500 meter-long frieze, which spread across the walls flanking the Tiber River in Rome. The artist portrayed dominant tensions witnessed throughout the city’s rich history. More than eighty figures, up to ten meters high represented Rome’s greatest victories and defeats from mythological times to the present, forming a silhouetted procession on Piazza Tevere. Panther speaks to that incredibly ambitious project titled Triumphs and Laments.
The Robert Holmes à Court Collection, Western Australia;
Sotheby’s, Important Aboriginal Art, Melbourne, 30 June 1997, lot 49;
Private Collection, United States of America
In 1989 Emily Kame Kngwarreye produced her first paintings on canvas. At the time she was represented by the highly respected agent, Rodney Gooch at the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA). Rodney was one of the few agents to have worked with Emily throughout most of her career, and Anne Marie Brody acknowledges him as the source of Emily’s move to first paint on canvas with Emu Woman, 1988-89. In describing how unique and significant the artist’s oeuvre was, Anne Marie Brody states: “Photographs showing what other artists were producing, especially in 1989, the first year Utopia artists painted on canvas, are an instant reminder of just how much Emily Kame Kngwarreye stood out not only amongst her own Utopia crowd but right across the Western Desert.” 1 Artworks such as Awelye (meaning “my dreaming”) were among the first paintings on canvas to be produced by Emily.
This seminal body of work set the foundation for her highly celebrated oeuvre in the years to follow. Awelye is a beautiful early reflection of Emily’s aesthetic where fluid configurations of dots and lines, representing seeds and growing yams, are rhythmically mapped across the canvas.
1. Anne Marie Brody, ‘Reflections on the Rodney Gooch Files,’ Indigenous Archives: The making and Unmaking of Aboriginal Art, edited by Darren Jorgensen and Ian McLean, UWP Publishing, 2017, p.46
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.
Acquired from Waringarri Arts, Kununurra, Western Australia;
Then by descent, private collection, Queensland
This painting depicts the rolling hills at Rosewood Station, 100 kilometres from Kununurra where Queenie McKenzie resided as a cook.
McKenzie was not only a remarkable artist and well-respected cultural leader in the Kimberley but she was also a law-woman. McKenzie ensured the efficacy of traditional cultural practices and the preservation of her heritage through song, ceremony and story. Through painting she inspired interest in and respect for her peoples’ connection to the land.
Margaret Olley: The Inner Sanctum, Philip Bacon Galleries exhibiting at Sotheby’s Galleries, Sydney, 2-17 March 2012, cat. 8
The Sound of Art, William Robinson Gallery, Brisbane, 14-25 July 2017
Margaret Olley’s Cornflowers and Red Lacquer Compot is both an exquisite and characteristic example of the revered Australian artist’s work. These deftly painted still-life pieces provide intimate insights into the artist’s life and home. Her Paddington studio, purchased in 1964, was famously forever-strewn with floral bouquets, eclectic pottery collections and arrays of fruit, all of which came to life on her canvases in richly painted compositions.
Olley was the subject of two winning Archibald awards in her lifetime. The first was a 1948 portrait by William Dobell and the second a portrait by Ben Quilty in 2011, the same year that Cornflowers and Red Lacquer Compot was completed. The enduring popularity of these two portraits bears testament to her important role in the art world, both as a painter and a philanthropist.
Allen D. Christensen Collection, California (label attached verso);
On loan to the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth (label attached verso);
Deutscher Fine Art, Melbourne;
Company collection, Adelaide;
Deutscher-Menzies, Australian and International Paintings, Sydney, 5 March
2002, Lot 50;
Private collection, Sydney
The Land Beyond Time; paintings and drawings by John Olsen, Art Gallery of Western Australia, May 1984, cat. 97/98; touring exhibition to Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 21 November 1984-6 January 1985; Newcastle Region Art Gallery, 8-29 September 1985; Wollongong City Gallery, 1 November-8 December 1985; Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville, 3 January-9 March 1986; Tamworth City Gallery, April-May 1986; Orange Regional Gallery, 1 June-7 July 1986; Lewers Bequest and Penrith Regional Art Gallery, July-September 1986; Wagga Wagga City Art Gallery, October 1986; Westpac Gallery, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne, November 1986; Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs, December, 1986; Shepparton Art Gallery, December-January 1987; Nolan Gallery, Lanyon, February -31 March 1989; Centre Gallery, Gold Coast, 17 June-13 August 1989; Manly Art Gallery, 7 September-15 October 1989; North Adelaide School of Arts, March 1990..
The beauty of the Kimberley landscape has had an enduring influence on John Olsen’s work since his first visit to the region in 1982.
Olsen described his engagement with the Kimberley as having ‘an impact which makes one strive for familiar points of reference: to compare the complex of channels through the Wyndham salt flats to the gigantic nervous system, or the strange rock formations of the Bungle Bungle to abandoned Buddhist temples. It is as though the observer is forced to seek a key to their messages, but there really is no point in making such comparisons because the North-West remains unique: a territory with a fearful fascination and an unforgettable charisma which have no relationship to any other human experience.’1
1. Preface in Olsen, J., The Land Beyond Time, The Macmillan Company of
Australia, Melbourne, 1984
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.
Philip Bacon Galleries, Queensland;
Private collection, Sydney
Ordinary industrial and household objects are revisited and given new life in Jude Rae’s elegant compositions, achieving a balance between representation and abstraction. In SL388, the artist characteristically challenges the viewer to reassess notions of beauty in these skilfully arranged and exquisitely painted utilitarian objects.
David Rankin, Powell Street Gallery, Melbourne, 1972; Charles Nodrum Gallery, 2011; Private Collection,Melbourne
Note: the ‘Gibbon’ is Gibbon’s Beach, Bundeena, south of Port Hacking, where the artist stayed in the early 1970s.
David Rankin is a New York based Australian artist. Born in Plymouth, England in 1946, he emigrated to Australia in 1948. Interested in the merging of western, eastern and indigenous art, Rankin sees the role of Australian artists as one of authentically and truthfully absorbing those nearby cultures and spiritual beliefs, and integrating these elements into individual works. Throughout the past thirty years, Rankin has held over 100 one-person exhibitions worldwide; he is represented in many of the world’s leading collections and museums.
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.
The Estate of Ray Hughes;
Shapiro Auctioneers, Ray Hughes: A Life with Art – Session I, Sydney, 14 May 2018;
Private collection, Sydney
William Robinson moved in 1970 to a farm in Birkdale, a country area on the outskirts of Brisbane and the ever popular works from this period are among the artist’s most whimsical and original.
“We bought this eight acres at Birkdale in the Redlands district and expanded the house. We didn’t accumulate the animals immediately. I tried growing nut trees but I was a disastrous farmer. I was going to work in the city at the same time (as an art teacher). Gradually we accumulated a few animals and by 1976, after I’d gone to teach in Toowoomba for six months, we came back and started to collect animals with a vengeance; more and more livestock – dogs, chooks, cows and goats. Shirley was even running a little sort of dairy.
In 1980 I had this show of cows. When I’d done them I realised I’d gone up a pathway… I had gone up other pathways that were all wrong because they were other artist’s pathways… with the cows for the first time I’d created something. I felt a sense of amazement that I’d gone out on a limb and created something I couldn’t relate to anybody else’s work before. Only to old Victorian photos in oval frames. So I had this rather silly show of cows, leaving all the other things behind and taking a journey into the unknown.”
Deborah Hart, William Robinson: The Transfigured Landscape, Piper Press, Sydney, 2011, p. 25
acrylic and natural pigments on Japanese mulberry paper
paper signed and inscribed "Waterfall, H. Senju, 2018" on reverse
130 x 162cm
Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Hong Kong;
Private collection, Sydney
Japanese-born painter Hiroshi Senju is noted worldwide for his sublime waterfall and cliff images, which are often monumental in scale. He combines a minimalist visual language rooted in Abstract Expressionism with ancient painting techniques unique to Japan. Senju is widely recognized as one of the few contemporary masters of the thousand-year-old nihonga style of painting, using pigments made from minerals, ground stone, shell and corals suspended in animal-hide glue.
Senju’s work is in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri; the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto; the Museum of Modern Art, Toyama, Japan; the Yamatane Museum of Art, Tokyo; Tokyo University of the Arts; and the Kushiro Art Museum, Hokkaido. The Hiroshi Senju Museum in Karuizawa, Japan, opened in 2011 as a gallery devoted in its entirety to the artist’s work.
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.
Susan Weil is one of the most innovative female artists of the 20th century. She challenged the boundaries of abstract expressionism and was a key figure in the movement, which was predominantly defined by male painters including her ex-husband Robert Rauschenberg. Others included Willem de Kooning, Yves Kline and Jackson Pollock.
Weil studied under Josef Albers at Black Mountain College, and soon after moved to New York with Robert Rauschenberg in 1949. The couple were at the centre of the New York School along with fellow artists Cy Twombly, Elaine and Willem de Kooning and Jasper Johns.
Walking Figure, 1969 is a highly important work by the artist, and she revisited this theme several times throughout the following 50 years. The shade of blue used here became one of Weil’s signature colours.
Weil collaborated with Rauschenberg on the Blueprints series between 1949 – 1951, however what is not widely known is that the idea behind the body of works was completely Weil’s; she had experimented with the monoprint technique since childhood.
Weil’s work can be found in prominent art collections in the United States and Europe including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Weil is the subject of several monographic publications and exhibitions.
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.
Purchased form Sandra Holmes, Collection of Leo Kelly, Sydney; Sotheby’s June 2000, Lot 282
One of the most celebrated Australian Aboriginal artists of the twentieth century,Yirawala was a seminal figure in the contemporary bark painting movement. He was a man of high ritual authority who worked tirelessly to communicate the value of his culture to outside audiences through his art. Yirawala was the most influential of the artists in the Croker Island ‘school’ of bark painting in the 1950s and 1960s. He was a Kuninjkuritual leader with access to a vast amount of religious iconography, whose bark paintings featured the shimmering rarrk (cross-hatching) patterns of the Mardayin ceremony. With their origins in ceremonial body painting, rarrk designs are associated with the power of the Ancestor beings. Yirawala’s style of painting, which included these designs to dazzling effect, influenced many of the best-known bark painters working today.
This work was produced during a six month residency at the Bondi Pavilion Community Centre in 1989 and a number of works were acquired by the Art Gallery of New South Wales for the exhibition Twenty Australian Photographers at the National Gallery of Victoria, 1990 and a substantial number from this series were later included in a major exhibition The Beach at the Museum of Heide in 1994.
This series challenges some of the dominant representations of the beach through a series of photographic portraits taken against a painted backdrop of Bondi and explores the cultural stereotypes that usually define its visual history and parody these in an ironic and critical manner.