Important Australian + International Fine Art
27 August 2008

Brett Whiteley

(1939 - 1992)

oil on canvas

95.0 x 75.0 cm

signed lower right: Brett Whiteley, stamped with monogram twice lower right, titled on gallery label affixed verso

$280,000 - 380,000
Sold for $336,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 5 - 27 August 2008, Melbourne

Holdsworth Galleries, Sydney, 1979 Private collection
Christie's, Melbourne, 23 November 1998, lot 39
Private collection, Sydney

Catalogue text

In View from the Window, Bali, Brett Whiteley employed a style and technique that is as lush as the subject depicted. Visually indulgent in its array of tropical fecundity, this and others of his Bali works capture the beguiling image of an island paradise, which provided him with both inspiration and nurture. Barry Pearce, in the catalogue accompanying the 1995 Whiteley retrospective exhibition, refers to Whiteley's earlier visits to 'Fiji, Africa and Bali in his attempt to glimpse the unsullied states of paradise envisaged by Baudelaire and Gauguin.'1 That same quasi-Eden refuge where Whiteley recuperated after his time in New York can be found in The Green Mountain, (Fiji), 1969, (collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales), with its tropical lushness. Continuing to seek those other Edens, Whiteley returned to Bali in June of 1978, shortly after having taken out the trifecta of the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman prizes. In August he went to New Caledonia, returning to Bali in September. Although he completed only a small group of paintings, works such as View from the Window, Bali, typify all that is seductively sensuous in his art. The eye is drawn by the elegant span of the blue leaves into a picture of fruitfulness, the sinuous lines adding to its visual intoxication. Whiteley delighted in the foreground motif of an abundance of leaves, a related example being the oil and collage, Bali painted during an earlier visit in May 1974. Here the green foliage occupies a major part of the composition, its foreground prominence contrasting with the illusion of the landscape stretching into the beyond, similar to this painting.

Another of Whiteley's popular motifs, the view through the window, is also effectively used in this painting. Whiteley introduced it in some of his best Lavender Bay paintings looking out to Sydney Harbour and its busy waters. In Self Portrait in the Studio, which was awarded the 1976 Archibald Prize (collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales), there are two window views. The one to the left looks onto Sydney Harbour, while that in the centre of the composition shows the garden and further blue waters. On a quieter note, Lavender Bay in the Rain, 1981, is devoted entirely to the open window and its view. A different mood permeates View from the Window, Bali, where the golden ball of the sun rising above the buildings within an exotically beautiful setting breathes a new optimism, celebrated in the surrounding luxuriance of nature. The feeling is euphoric, as the artist responds to the promise engendered by the new day as seen in the idyllic view from his window.

1. Pearce, B, Brett Whiteley: Art & Life, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1995, p. 126