UNTITLED (WILD BERRIES) 20030201, 2003

Important Australian + International Fine Art
26 November 2008

Tim Maguire

born 1958
UNTITLED (WILD BERRIES) 20030201, 2003

oil on canvas

122.0 x 222.0 cm

signed and inscribed verso: Maguire 2003 0201

$100,000 - 140,000
Sold for $120,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 6 - 26 November 2008, Melbourne

Vivienne Sharpe Fine Art, Sydney
Private collection, New South Wales

Catalogue text

The goal for a serious painter today is to make work that is simultaneously embedded in the tradition of painting whilst engaging with the contemporary world. This Maguire does.'1

With its sheer beauty and theatrical grandeur, Untitled (Wild Berries) 20030201 is an impressive example of the sensuous magnified fruit and floral bloom paintings for which Australian contemporary artist Tim Maguire has become internationally renowned. Inspired by Dutch still life painting of the seventeenth century, such works are celebrated not only for their presence of scale and intriguing surreal quality but equally, for their enduring preoccupation with the very physical act of painting.

Highly skilful and unique, Maguire's technique is distinguished by an abiding interest in the dichotomy between production and reproduction, between the painterly and the photographic potential of the canvas surface. Applying onto white canvas layers of transparent glazes which are then stripped back with droplets of solvent, Maguire thus creates an illusion of texture which - rather than preserve the thoughts and gestures of the artist - remains remarkably detached, even self-effacing. There is no real sense of brush to canvas, an ambiguity further enhanced by the illusionistic nature and cropping of the image which unmistakably recalls photographic processes.

That the marks of erased paint in the present work bear little attention to the form of the fruit further substantiates the argument of critics that the subject of Maguire's work is not its figurative content. As one commentator suggests, 'capturing the moment when the magic of the image collapses into the materiality of the brushstroke, the real subject of his paintings is painting itself.'2 Such also accords with the artist's own recollection of his relationship to the source of inspiration: 'the further away I got from the original image, the more scope there was for painterliness and asserting the materiality of the process, which was the whole point of the exercise.'3

1. Godfrey, T., 'Skin, Light and Beauty' in Tim Maguire, Piper Press, Sydney, 2007, p. 28
2. Tim Maguire, ibid. dustjacket
3. Maguire cited in 'What is it 'as it really is'? Tim Maguire in conversation with Jonathan Watkins' in Tim Maguire, ibid., p. 72