Rococo Rhythm 1992

Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 173 x 135
signed, dated and titled
Private collection, Melbourne

As the authors of Spray observe, this work is an excellent example of the way in which Arkley ‘subverts realist notions of light and perspective’ in the ‘Mix’n Match’ series, exploring formal effects of ‘positive and negative lighting’.

In interviews conducted in preparation for the 1992 ‘Mix’n Match’ catalogue (unpublished manuscript, quoted in part in Gregory 1992), Arkley insisted that he did not intend to develop a ‘room-by-room description’ of the suburban house in this exhibition. Nevertheless, this image of the bedroom – the shrine of the traditional suburban house – resonates with particularly mysterious qualities of exaggerated perspective and lighting.

The carpet reveals a meticulous play of pattern and tone, beckoning the eye from the darker foreground, via a seething rug, to the glowing bed, rich with passionate colour and the seductive patterns suggested by the work’s title. In the process, Arkley brilliantly transformed the bland, clinical source image, derived from Gold’s Instant Decorator, into a tour-de-force of controlled intensity.


  • Recorded in a Melbourne private collection in the planning notes for the Arkley retrospective NGVA c.2006


  • HA Tolarno 10/92 (‘Mix’n Match’), cat.2 (details as above)
  • HA retrospective 2006-7  (shown in Melbourne only)


  • Spray 107 (quoted above; inc. ill., reversed)