Important Australian + International Fine Art
27 August 2008

Rick Amor

born 1948

oil on canvas

130.0 x 97.0 cm

signed and dated lower left: RICK AMOR 01
inscribed verso: The Silence / Mar 01 / July

$55,000 - 75,000
Sold for $55,200 (inc. BP) in Auction 5 - 27 August 2008, Melbourne

Niagara Galleries, Melbourne (label attached verso)
Private collection, Melbourne
Lawson~Menzies, Sydney, 6 December 2007, lot 248
Private collection, Sydney

Catalogue text

The enigmatic and the tenebrous rub shoulders in Rick Amor's art, frequently allied to the monumental, as in The Silence. Museum interiors and their objects are the subject of many a fine painting by Amor. They include the tomb-like interior of The Lamp, 1994, where the monumental, mausoleum and museum co-habit; and The Old King, 2002, where Amor repeats the huge headless Assyrian figure seen in the centre background of our painting. Amor ranges through the ages in these paintings with a marble Roman lion in one, and a Pharaonic stone head in another. The modern meets the ancient in Morning in the Outlying Districts, 2003, the colossus of the white horse and open archway recalling the epic Trojan war and its destruction through self-delusion.

The museum has been a fruitful hunting ground for Amor, his grand interiors recalling the State Library of Victoria, where once the former Museum of Victoria and National Gallery were accommodated, or New York's cavernous Metropolitan Museum, London's British Museum and others of like splendour. Each house the reminders of civilisations lost and the warnings their wondrous works contain. Although many are confined to their glass cases, there is an undeniable threat, aided by their majestic and sombre interiors. They are timely reminders that our civilisation too will one day become like theirs. The title 'The Silence' is more than a mute reminder of this fact.

While the museum interior of The Silence may be from the artist's imagination, the dominating sculpture to the right is based on the human-headed winged lion from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud, dating from the eight century B.C. It is now housed in the British Museum. These mighty Assyrian sculptural figures tell us of that fearsome nation, the conquerors of Babylon and beyond. They too were obsessed with war and invasion, in the chaos that was and is the Middle East. Amor develops these tensions of the past and present through the angularity within the painting - by use of line, form and light to create an agitation within its paradoxical stillness. A line angling upwards in the stone joint of the floor, echoing the angles of the ceiling, hits headlong into the solid display pediment crushed by the weight of the objects. They loom from their darkness of the past into the present. This carefully considered geometry allied to the handling of light is part of the unrivalled splendour of this painting, giving it that mood of brooding suspense and drama that is unique to Amor.