‘Howard Arkley: Recent Works’, Solander Gallery, Canberra, Oct.-Nov.1981

Solander 1981 exh

‘Howard Arkley: Recent Works’, Solander Gallery, Canberra, 16 Oct.-1 Nov.1981

This exhibition reprised the patterning theme of Arkley’s July 1981 show at Tolarno, including five canvases and a work on paper (no.12) first shown there, but with the addition of several new works on paper. In reality, though, the Solander show documents a phase of Arkley’s career that had already been surpassed, given the exhibition of Primitive [mural] (1981) [W/P] in July.

The Solander show was reviewed astutely in the Canberra Times by Sonja Kaleski (1981), who commented on the works’ Op lineage and visual intelligence, noting the important role played by the black dots, lines and grids in emphasising the picture surface (in contrast with the air-brushed patterning and spatial effects).

Arkley’s archive includes a partial set of installation slides, and slides of most of the individual works, almost all with process dates of Oct.1981, assisting with identification, although two works on paper (nos.10 and 11) remain unidentified at this stage. The check-list (in Arkley’s archive) indicates that nos. 1-5 were acrylic on canvas, each 160 x 160 cm, each priced at $1000; nos. 6-10: acrylic on paper, 80 x 104 cm, each $400; nos. 11-12: acrylic on paper, 88 x 115 cm, also $400 each.

(photo: installation shot showing, from left, cat.nos. 4, 5, 6, 7, 10 (?), 9 and 2 [archive slide])

1. Vortex 1981: first shown at Tolarno 7/81

2. Science 1981: also shown at Tolarno 7/81

3. Ornamentic 1981: also shown at Tolarno 7/81

4. Logitec: see Logitec (1981?); this is presumably the canvas first exhibited at Tolarno 7/81 (also as Logitec) and later incorporated into Logitex installation (1980-84) [3/M] (now NGA); slides in Arkley’s files are dated August & Oct.1981

5. Metallic 1981: also first shown Tolarno 7/81

6. Lattice (1981) [W/P]: slide in Arkley’s archive with process date Oct81; this is a small variant of Lattice and Grids (1981)

7. Weaving (1981) [W/P]: Arkley’s archive includes an archive slide with process date March 1981, and the work is also visible in Solander installation shots, although part of the work appears to have been masked; a detail was reproduced in black and white on the Solander exhibition invitation (see Arkley files)


8. Printout (1981) [W/P]: Arkley’s archive includes a slide with process date Aug80 (also visible in Solander installation photos); one of a number of work-on-paper variants of Printout 1981

9. Disco (1981) [W/P]: visible in installation slide (as reproduced above), with process date Oct81; work-on-paper variant of Disco 1981

10. Primitive [small] (1981) [W/P]: 80 x 104 cm acc.to check-list; unidentified; this was most likely a small variant of Metallic 1981, visible third from right in the installation photo shown here, and not otherwise accounted for; it was clearly not the large mural drawing shown at Prahran in July-August 1981.

11. Figurative (1981) [W/P]: 88 x 115 cm. acc.to check-list; unidentified; possibly a variant of the canvas shown at Tolarno in July: see Figurative (1981) [aka ‘Primitive Silver’?]. However, no such work on paper appears to be extant. Alternatively, this could be identical with a work on paper auctioned by Christie’s in June 2002: see now Untitled ['Abstract'] 1981 [W/P], an attributed work signed and dated 1981, and based on a pattern similar to that used for Ornamentik (1981); the size given by Christie’s, 59.5 x 86, does not seem consistent with the Solander entry, but there are similar discrepancies for other works from this show (see eg. no.12).

12. Redwedge = Redwedge [#1] (1981) [W/P]: Arkley’s archive includes slides with process date Oct81; to judge from installation photos, this work was first shown at Tolarno in July 1981 (cat. no.11); it may also be the work on paper exh. at Monash in 1991 (cat.27) as ‘Study for Red Wedge carpet’ (sd+t 1981), although there are discrepancies in size and other details, suggesting two different works may be involved.