Today I had time to get to the Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney city. As I neither work or live in the city I do not go there often, so when I do visit I become acutely aware of how different the urban environment is there to the more expansive suburban Sydney. The density is significantly higher with more people, taller buildings and subsequently less sunlight. Perhaps due to its unfamiliarity I felt no desire to connect with this landscape and try to paint it. However my suburban ease was appeased in the Gallery of NSW in a large painting by Howard Arkley entitled 'Superb + solid' (1998) painted in synthetic polymenr on canvas . This is unusual as it engages with the suburbian landscape which is often disregarded in Australian landscape painting for the city or the bush. The house seems to be a more modernised take on a federation home perhaps built in the 1950s. The artist has distilled the image so that the suburban home almost takes on an iconic feel of a glossy real-estate photo. The idea of Suburbia has many connotations between a positive and comforting place to an isolating and unprogressive environment. It seems for an urban environment that is so significant and dominant in Australia there should be more artists examining the subject-matter.
|Howard Arkley, 'Superb + solid' (1998)|