Important Australian + International Fine Art
29 April 2009

Howard Arkley

(1951 - 1999)

synthetic polymer paint on canvas

175.0 x 135.0 cm

signed, dated and inscribed verso: Howard Arkley / ‘Freeway’ (Exit) / 1995 / Howard Arkley

$90,000 - 140,000
Sold for $108,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 8 - 29 April 2009, Melbourne

Private collection, Melbourne
Deutscher~Menzies, Melbourne, 29 November 2000, lot 20
Private collection, Melbourne

Catalogue text

‘These late freeway images resonate suggestively with several of the most central themes and concerns of Arkley's work ever since the late1970s: the primacy of pattern an colour; the discovery of delight and even grandeur in the everyday; the idea that the contemporary city and its suburbs provide ample subject-matter for extended artistic exploration; and the sense of a silver lining to the dark clouds of modern times.’1

Informed by Arkley's career-long engagement with abstraction, the Freeway works form an important part of the artists investigation of the non-objective. Whilst certainly more than mere pretexts for formal display, the Freeway works are nonetheless highly complex abstract compositions that reveal the artist's abiding fascination with colour, form and repetition.

Most likely inspired by a trip in 1987 to Canberra where Arkley photographed the many freeways and overpasses, the artist's interest in the subject can also be traced to the significant quantity of source material that he collected on them. Indeed, towards the end of his life, the artist was preparing material for another series of Freeway works, this time based on a group of photographs he has taken of the Los Angeles freeways.

As John Gregory notes in his monograph on the artist, ‘Arkley gleaned formal inspiration from the sweeping curvature of concrete fly overs, and found surprisingly vivid colour and other visual pleasures in the road systems and shining towers of the contemporary city’.2

1. Gregory, J., Carnival in Suburbia, The Art of Howard Arkley, Cambridge University Press, Melbourne, 2006, p. 46
2. ibid., p. 46