IDIOM, 2001

Important Australian + International Fine Art
17 November 2010

Bronwyn Oliver

(1959 - 2006)
IDIOM, 2001


200.0 cm length

Sold for $120,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 18 - 17 November 2010, Sydney

Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne
Private collection, Melbourne

Catalogue text

'I think about sculpture as a kind of physical poetry, and I construct my sculpture like constructing sentences, in the sense that I try to exclude associations that are clouding the centre and leave in only associations that add meaning to the core.'1

As one of the country's leading and most celebrated sculptors, Bronwyn Oliver has left behind an important legacy. An intelligence and sophistication informs her practice resulting in mesmerising, elegant and stunningly beautiful works of art.

The interplay of tension between depth, surface, air and light is delicately balanced in her work. Her sculptures appear caged and resilient yet exposed and vulnerable all at the same time, existing in a fragile realm that is subversively robust and unyielding. Like veins in a leaf, an intricate system of copper is woven together to form an impeccable whole. Oliver was able to successfully tame this seemingly immutable medium, melding and stylising it to form a unique sculptural lexicon.

Oliver's sculptures appear as inanimate objects, yet seemingly coil and recoil upon further inspection - at once immobile and inert, yet also active and dynamic. This duality of energy and still sense of calm within the work brings with it an elevated level of artistic achievement.

The curly copper form of Idiom 2001 alludes to a serpent in motion or a gnarled twisted twig, and as the title suggests, serves as an exemplary symbol of Oliver's talent. Like the articulation of a melody in physical form, the sculpture acts as a ripple of energy, a direct expression embodied through a painstaking and laborious technique. Bearing affinities with earlier works such as Curlicue 1991 and later horizontal copper structures such as Stroke 2006, Idiom is similarly based upon principles of spiralling and stretching, with the repetition of pattern and textural dexterity evoking ideas of growth and renewal.

Like the finest of Oliver's achievements, Idiom is an awe-inspiring work embodying a sense of elegance and refinement that is unmatched and exclusively hers.

1. The artist cited in Fenner, F., 'Introductory Essay', Bronwyn Oliver, Moet et Chandon, Epernay, France, 1995