‘Howard Arkley’, Tolarno, Aug.-Sept.1976

‘Howard Arkley: An Exhibition of Recent Paintings’, Tolarno Galleries, St Kilda, 18 Aug.-5 Sept.1986

As with Arkley’s first solo show, there are no installation photos, and some gaps in the photographic record, leading to problems of identification.

The artist’s statement (quoted in Duncan 1991: 19 and Spray 19) mentions key concepts, including the idea of these paintings as ‘thought forms’, a term also used in the titles of several of Arkley’s paintings from the period, and apparently derived from the theosophical study of the same name by Annie Besant and C.W.Leadbetter (1905).[1]

Other relevant sources included Paul Klee (for the idea of ‘proceeding from the void’), and US art historian George Kubler’s influential book, The Shape of Time (1962), which, as Smith 2006: 9, observes, provided titles for other Arkley works from this period – e.g. Actuality (Is the Void Between Events) (cat.3).

This exhibition was reviewed enthusiastically by Bernard Boles, Maureen Gilchrist, Alan McCulloch and Jeffrey Makin (see biblio.). Boles noted that all the canvases were on stretchers 3 inches deep, an important clue to identification, as is McCulloch’s description of cat.no.9 (see catalogue entry).

The check-list describes all 9 works as acrylic on canvas, 160 x 210 cm.

1.   Pauses (Interchronic) 1976

2.   Recording (Scientific Knowledge) (1975): unidentified. Presumably the work shown with this title in HA Monash 1991, cat.10 (as 1975; artist’s collection, but as 170 x 240 in size); Arkley’s files contain a Polaroid photo labelled (by someone other than Arkley) with this title, but showing the work generally accepted as Pauses (Interchronic) (see no.1 above).

3.   Actuality (is the Void between Events) 1976

4.   Oriental (Wave Study) 1974: first shown in the Inez Hutchinson Prize, 6/75, as ‘Second Tracing’; one of the slides in Arkley’s archive has a process date of May75

5.   Private (Thought Form) (1976): tentative ID here via an Arkley archive slide of a work closely related to Still Life D.E. (Linear Analysis) (1976)

6.   Organic Model D (Intuitive Reason) = Organic Model (Intuitive Reason) (1976): this work was also shown at Coventry 5/77 as Organic Model D (Intuitive Reason), but then in HA Monash 1991 as Primal (Thought Form), HA Tolarno 9/95 as Organic Model, and then in the 2006 Arkley retrospective as Organic Model (Intuitive Reason) - the inscribed title.

7.   Still Life (Linear Analysis): presumably Still Life D.E.(Linear Analysis) (1976), as shown in HA Coventry 5/77 (also as 160 x 210 in size)

8.   Organic Model F (Liquid) (1976): identified here as one of the canvases still in Arkley’s collection at his death, shown in the 2006 Arkley retrospective as ‘Untitled (c.1976)’

9.   Primal (Thought Forms): identified here as Organic Model G (Black Square) 1976 [Tolarno]: see catalogue entry for details

[1] For the full text of Thought-Forms, see http://www.anandgholap.net/Power_And_Use_Of_Thought-CWL.htm