UNTITLED 99D39, 1999

Important Australian + International Fine Art
29 August 2012


born 1958
UNTITLED 99D39, 1999

oil on canvas

146.0 x 120.0 cm

signed, dated and titled verso: Maguire ‘99 / Untitled 99D39

$30,000 - 40,000
Sold for $32,400 (inc. BP) in Auction 26 - 29 August 2012, Melbourne

Galerie Andreas Binder, Munich, Germany
Private collection, London

Tim Maguire is represented by Martin BrowneContemporary, Sydney and Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne

Catalogue text

With luscious themes of abundance and summer-ripe beauty, Tim Maguire's berry and full floral bloom paintings are immersive in their cinematic scale and technical achievement. Resolutely contemporary, Maguire's paintings allude to the past with a particular reference to 17th century Flemish still-life painting. Like the vanitas themes which preoccupied the Dutch, here nature has concurrently a real and metaphysical value. Maguire beguiles and seduces us whilst simultaneously generating meaning beyond the exact realism of the subject. In a manner observed by historian Kristine Koozin of the Dutch masters as 'a kind of "metaphoric realism", abstract ideas are explained through a syntax of objects rather than through the didactic narrative of human action in history painting.'1

Addressing themes of transience, mortality and the fleeting beauty of this earthly life, the vanitas theme in its historical form contained myriad layers of symbolism. Some motifs bear accepted meanings such as grapes alluding to the Eucharist and red cherries for the Fruits of Paradise. Maguire's interest in this particular motif has been enduring, describing their form as 'in one bunch you have berries that are spherical and perfect, glistening, shiny and others that are starting to go bad...With such a botanical subject matter I'm interested in allegorical possibilities arising out of the life cycle, the contrast of perfect beauty with decay, its seductive allure as opposed to something past its sell-by date.'2

However, it would be an oversimplification to address Maguire's work purely as an extension of the Flemish tradition. For Maguire the painting itself is the subject matter. With an abiding interest in the dichotomy between production and reproduction, between the painterly and the photographic, Maguire shifts his subject in and out of focus as their extraordinary scale moves them to the brink of abstraction and then back again.

Bold, lush and rich in its fleshy radiance, Untitled 99D39 is a work of startling beauty. The tension between the subject, here viburnum berries, and the chemical interventions of Maguire's technical process, has resulted in a work which contributes to the complex and very contemporary notions of beauty in painting.

1 Koozin, K., The vanitas still lifes of Harmen Steenwyck: metaphoric realism, Edwin Mellen Press, New York, 1990, p. 21
2. Murray Cree, L. (ed.), Tim Maguire, Piper Press, Sydney, 2007, p. 134