TWIST, 1991

Important Australian + International Fine Art
26 August 2015


(1959 - 2006)
TWIST, 1991


180.0 cm (length)

$70,000 - 90,000
Sold for $79,300 (inc. BP) in Auction 40 - 26 August 2015, Sydney

Private collection, New Zealand


Bronwyn Oliver, Fabrications, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland, 7 July – 20 August 1992, cat. 3. An Australian artist's project organised by the Auckland City Art Gallery supported by the Australia/ New Zealand Foundation.

Catalogue text

One of Australia's most innovative contemporary sculptors, Bronwyn Oliver remains celebrated for her extraordinary ability to produce meticulously articulated works of immense beauty and grace which unite timeless, organic forms of the natural world with the abstract logic of geometry. As elucidated by Hannah Fink in her introduction to the artist's exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in July 2006, '...Bronwyn was modest, yet utterly sure of her vision, secure in the confidence of her originality. Her art was fully resolved - perfect, really - and she stands alone in the annals of Australian art history. There was no-one like her: she invented her own deeply intelligent form, and entered fully into the world that it opened out to her.'1

Simple yet complicated, fragile yet strong, eccentric though at the same time oddly straightforward, Twist, 1991 is a superb example of Oliver's delicately woven copper and bronze assemblages that universally surprise and inspire - beguiling both the eye and mind through their enigmatic presence. With their tactility and anatomical physicality, such intricately executed forms moreover inevitably elicit a temptation to touch - the sensual, prehistorically-scaled versions of natural phenomena thus reminding us that the world is a corporeal place. 

Yet too often the easy, voluptuous curves of Oliver's objects belie the punishing, labour intensive process to which the artist was so passionately committed. As intimated by the present sculpture's highly apt and expressive title meaning to entwine, coil or wind, Oliver would painstakingly manipulate dizzying twistings and welds of pliant copper wire to create the 'weave' - the microstructure of her organic sculptural forms which gradually became more open and geometric to allow light to permeate and exaggerate their optical aspect. Thus, the shadows cast by her objects - whether flowing spiral and funnel shapes, calligraphic sweeping curves or seed and pod-like spheres - are so intrinsic to the formalist geometry of each piece that at times the shadow itself almost becomes more powerful...becomes the object.

As Amanda Rowell poignantly muses, '...the microcosmic, complex surface of an Oliver sculpture is an interface between the macroform of its overall shape and the internal cavity or void where the sculpture breathes. The ease of connection between these three formal aspects of her works, along with their gently mimetic character - as alluded by their titles - constitute their elegance and simple pleasure...2

1. Fink, H., Bronwyn Oliver (1959-2006), 10 July 2006, exhibition essay for 'Bronwyn Oliver (1959-2006)', Roslyn Oxley9, Sydney, 10 August - 2 September 2006 
2. Rowell, A., Bronwyn Oliver 2004, 9 September 2004, exhibition essay for 'Bronwyn Oliver 2004', Roslyn Oxley9, Sydney, 9 September - 9 October 2004