Important Australian + International Fine Art
16 April 2008

Robert Juniper

born 1929

oil on canvas

177.5 x 182.5 cm

signed, titled and dated on gallery label
attached verso: NANINE 1967 / R Juniper

$20,000 - 30,000
Sold for $43,200 (inc. BP) in Auction 4 - 16 April 2008, Melbourne

Skinner Galleries, Perth (label attached verso)
The Estate of Pro Hart, Broken Hill, New South Wales

Catalogue text

The aerial view of the landscape has been employed by Aboriginal artists for millennia, and by European newcomers from Margaret Preston to John Olsen. It offers a different and highly valid perspective of this vast land of the antipodes. In much of Australia thehorizon is flat and endless. In coming to terms with such apparent visual monotony, a number of artists have found a richness of variety in the landscape whether viewed closely or from above. Robert Juniper's Nanine Landscape, with its harmonising patterns of land forms and trees laid flat, shows that this approach is as interesting, if not more so, than the conventionally topographical.

Nanine Landscape had its beginnings in a 1965 trip Juniper made to the old gold-miningd istricts of Western Australia, through Cue, Nanine, Mt Magnet and Carnarvon. Nanine, its name derived from the Aboriginal 'Nannine', lying between Annean Station and Nanine Wells, is a ghost town in the midwest of Western Australia. Its gold rush hey-day belonged to the last decade of the nineteenth century. Visiting these abandoned mining sites inspired Juniper to focus on their landscapes, the gathered detritus being metaphors of the passing of time. In Nanine Landscape and related paintings, he compared the transience of human existence with the timeless grandeur of the landscape. The appeal was also historical, if not archaeological ''I find it a haunting sort of place " these towns which were flourishing early in the century - because the gold has petered out 'and where everything has disappeared but the barest traces... I suppose it's the nearest thing we have in Australia to a vanished civilisation.'1 While this interest in the marks left by human beings distinguishes many of his works, in Nanine Landscape the eye is caught more by the grandeur of the landscape, its sparse vastness contrasted with the detailed beauty of the native flora and fauna - a red kangaroo Aboriginal in form and concept, flowers of traditional European presentation, and Oriental delineation of space. There is an interchange between content and allegorical imagery, and conventional spatial illusions are dispensed with through the employment of the aerial view. The two-dimensional patterns of the landscape are extended by the flatness of the picture plane and the textured surfaces. 'I like my landscapes to look as though they have been exposed to time and the elements like the landscapes they are derived from, hence my use of natural ochres, mineral sands, graphite,'2

1. Smith, Trevor,' The Symbolist Landscape', in Smith, T, et al, Robert Juniper, p. 46, Craftsman House & Art Gallery of Western Australia, 1999
2. Education Pamphlet, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth, 1988