Important Australian + International Fine Art
14 September 2022


born 1949

synthetic polymer paint on linen

137.0 x 183.0 cm

signed lower right: Storrier
signed, dated and inscribed with title on stretcher bar verso: The Evening Lament (Yarras) / Storrier/ 2001

$50,000 – $70,000
Sold for $61,364 (inc. BP) in Auction 71 - 14 September 2022, Sydney

Corporate collection, Sydney

Catalogue text

‘My affinity for the Australian landscape has to do with a sense of place, which is both physical and emotional, and the fact that l always know where I am...’1
Encompassing the subtlety of nature’s fugitive diurnal moods, its mysterious, silently unfolding rituals and vast droning presence, Tim Storrier’s iconic outback paintings evoke a poignant sense of place that is inextricably Australian. As Edmund Capon, a former director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales remarked, ‘they could not, I believe have come from any country other than Australia.’2 Typically juxtaposing the element of fire against low horizons and expansive skies, indeed his meditations are indelible echoes of this brooding landmass – long-contemplated narratives inspired by Storrier’s own highly personal experience of the landscape and enhanced by the alluringly beautiful texture and finish of his art. Utterly individual and exquisitely rendered, thus his images feature among the most instantly recognisable and universally admired in Australian art.

If Storrier first captured the imagination of the art world during the eighties with his signature images of burning ropes set against expansive desert plains, by the turn of the millennium his evocations had become less literal and direct, announcing ‘…a more sophisticated exploration of the emotive, melancholic mood that has always haunted [his] work.’3 Painted at his grand Victorian property ‘Yarras’ in Bathurst, New South Wales, The Evening Lament (Yarras), 2001 exemplifies well this transition, belonging to a series of nocturnal landscape ‘vignettes’ in which the horizon line has now completely disappeared – replaced instead by swatches of celestial skies variously framed between ‘columns’ of simmering blaze lines and/or garlands of roses decoratively arranged in a manner reminiscent of wallpaper. Betraying a fundamental concern with the tension between the decorative and representational function of art, the work is a meticulously composed, psychologically laden image which, though clearly derived from the natural world, nevertheless resonates with symbolic meaning and the artist's own deeply personal vision. Indeed, in the manner of European Romantic and Neoclassical predecessors such as David, Ingres, Casper Friedrich and Delacroix, Storrier here contemplates the insignificance of humankind when compared to the awesome magnitude of the natural world, drawing upon the symbolism of the fading light of day as a metaphor for change or the fin de siècle (end of an era), while the sensuous floral blooms poignantly allude to evolution, the passing of time and the grandeur of decay in the same vein as a traditional vanitas still life.

Like the finest of Storrier’s work, The Evening Lament (Yarras) accordingly highlights the artist’s enduring interest in the dichotomy between the classical and romantic, between the disciplined order of a painting’s surface and the submerged, darker implications of its subject. Disquietingly beautiful, the work encapsulates superbly the real power of Storrier’s unique vision; as Paul McGillick astutely elucidates, ‘…Tim Storrier’s art is about ambiguity and irony. It is never what it seems. Storrier’s critics have invariably been taken in by the surface charm of the work. What they have not appreciated… is the contradiction between Storrier’s pretty palette and the ugly, decaying and often violent imagery of the pictures.’4

1. Storrier cited in Van Nunen, L., Point to Point: The Art of Tim Storrier, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1987
2. Capon, E., ‘Foreword’ in Lumby, C., Tim Storrier: The Art of the Outsider, Craftsman House, Sydney, 2000, p. 8
3. Lumby, ibid., p. 142 – 3
4. McGillick, P., ‘Culture shock for Paddo?’, Australian Financial Review, Sydney, 28 July 1989