A painting that helped Arkley to international fame goes for auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 16th November, 2022

Howard Arkley’s (1951-1999) painting High Fenced, 1996 – exhibited in November that year by Tolarno Galleries at the prestigious German art fair Art Cologne – was an important milestone in his efforts to achieve international recognition, culminating in his representation of Australia at the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999, a month before he died.

The painting is lot 5 in Deutscher and Hackett’s forthcoming Melbourne auction of important Australian and international fine art from 7pm Thursday December 1 at 105 Commercial Road, South Yarra and carries a catalogue estimate of $500,000-$700,000.

A master craftsman when it came to using airbrush techniques in his paintings to portray Australian residential dwellings, Arkley often based paintings like the one in the auction on real estate advertising images – where properties literally put on their ‘best face’ for purchase.

The Arkley work is joined in importance by Rosalie Gascoigne’s (1917-1999) Beaten Track, 1992 (lot 6) – made from sawn soft drink crates on plywood – that was exhibited that year in Sydney followed by Germany and New Zealand the year she died.

Training in the formal Ikebana discipline complemented her intuitive understanding of natural materials, along with her deep attachment to the environment and later interest in modern art.

One of Australia’s unique and beloved contemporary artists, Gascoigne drew her inspiration for the painting from spacious Monaro grazing lands on Canberra’s outskirts.

S&P Global Australia (previously known as McGraw-Hill Australia Pty Ltd), which produces a range of financial market intelligence to capital and commodity markets, is selling eight important works from its Lin Onus (1948-1996) collection at the auction.

These include Malwan Pond – Dawn, 1994 (lot 9) and Goonya Ga Girrarng (Fish and Leaves), 1995 (lot 12).

Although his mother Mary Kelly was of Scottish origin and an active member of the Australian Communist Party, Onus’s father Bill was a Yorta Yorta man from the Aboriginal mission of Cummerangunja near Echuca in northern Victoria – and recognised as an important figure in the indigenous civil rights movement.

Growing up in Melbourne, Lin could not escape the culturally productive and politically motivated atmosphere his parent generated – and as such his paintings were renowned for incorporating satire and humour that challenged cultural hegemonies and later demonstrated his indigenous connection to the Australian country.

There also are three remaining paintings from Australian media mogul the late Reg Grundy and his wife Joy Chambers-Grundy including Ian Fairweather’s Night Life, 1962 (lot 18).

Among several Brett Whitely (1939-1992) works in the sale is Daisies, 1975-76 (lot 7), a painting that encapsulates the elegant still lifes he created during the mid to late 1970s.

Another interesting work is Tom Roberts (1856-1931) Portrait of Eileen c1892 with a painting entitled Coastal Landscape on the other side of the wood panel (lot 20).

John Peter Russell (1858-1930) also rates a mention with A Blossom Tree, Belle-Ile 1887 (lot 24) – a painting he did during an 1886 summer break from Paris on the island, situated off the Brittany coast.

Russell holds a unique place in Australian art history because of his association with avant-garde art circles in 1880s Paris featuring such European Impressionism and Post-Impressionism artists as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh.

Other works include Arthur Boyd’s (1920-1999) Christ Walking on Water c1947-48 (lot 34), Aboriginal artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s (c1910-1996) Untitled (Alalgura/Emu Country), 1989 (lot 48) and several sporting paintings by Frederick Woodhouse Snr and Jnr from the Laverty Collection – including Wanderer – Property of P.G. Dixon Esq, 1878 (lot 95).


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Thursday November 17 to Sunday November 20

Melbourne – 105 Commercial Road, South Yarra


Thursday November 24 to Wednesday November 30

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