Important Australian and International Fine Art
13 September 2016


born 1949

synthetic polymer paint on linen

100.0 x 210.0 cm

signed lower right: Storrier
signed, dated and inscribed with title on stretcher verso: The Night (chrome tap) / Storrier / 2008

$80,000 – 120,000
Sold for $79,300 (inc. BP) in Auction 44 - 13 September 2016, Sydney

Company collection, Sydney

Catalogue text

The Night (Chrome Tap), 2008 is a unique painting in Tim Storrier’s oeuvre, presenting a subtle variation on the painter’s renowned scenes of blazing ropes and glowing embers, each set against an expansive natural backdrop. In the late 1990s, the thematic progression of Storrier’s practice led to an exploration of the four classical elements of earth, wind, fire and water, the seeds of which were already apparent in his earlier works. Pre-scientific concepts historically used to explain the physical complexities of matter in ancient cultures across the world, Storrier returned to these ideas to reveal the indomitable nature and awesome power of the natural world, captured in fleeting moments of transformation, destruction and regeneration. The Night (Chrome Tap) was commissioned specifically for the collection of an Australian mining and mineral processing company. In honour of this commission, Storrier introduced a fifth element into his repertoire, shown here in all of its molten potentiality – metal.

An awe-inspiring vision of elemental metamorphosis, The Night (Chrome Tap) is a reflection on man’s efforts to harness the power of the land. The title of this painting comes from the operation of tilting a furnace to pour out molten steel, an activity called ‘tapping’. Set against a characteristically low horizon and immense celestial vault striated with opaque clouds, Storrier’s vision of pooling molten metal is ambiguous. Absent of clear visual points of reference and perspective, exactly what we are looking at remains unclear. The steaming pool of plasma emanates from no discernible volcano, cascading instead from a source slightly outside the picture frame. For the artist, the landscapes are not literal transcriptions of the natural world – but are instead symbolic constructions, ‘a backdrop for theatre, a stage set for human drama’.1

Storrier is an artist who, despite his critical acclaim, has remained an outsider within the art world, moving independently of the protagonists of contemporary Australian and international avant-garde. As a result, his meticulous realism and potent symbolism are slightly anachronistic. The continuing attraction of Storrier’s works lies instead in the tension he creates between cryptic, almost surreal scenes and the impeccably smooth surfaces through which they are conveyed. The carefully executed vistas he paints reveal a fondness not only for decorative representation, but also for scenes that suggest the grandeur of space, time and human endeavour. Themes of destruction and regeneration apparent in Storrier’s later compositions, like The Night (Chrome Tap), endow these works with a metaphysical timelessness.

1. Tim Storrier cited in Lumby, C., Tim Storrier: The Art of the Outsider, Craftsman House, NSW, 2000, pp. 17, 18