Important Fine Art + Indigenous Art
29 November 2017


(1956 – 2011)

oil on canvas

122.5 x 183.0 cm

signed with initials and dated lower left: D.L. / ‘94
signed, dated and inscribed with title verso: “gentle invention” / 6 - 4 - 94 / David Larwill

$25,000 – 35,000
Sold for $29,280 (inc. BP) in Auction 52 - 29 November 2017, Melbourne

Gould Galleries, Melbourne (label attached verso)
Private collection, Melbourne, acquired from the above in 1994


David Larwill: Snakes and Ladders, Gould Galleries, Melbourne, 23 October – 20 November 1994

Catalogue text

One of the founding members of ROAR Studios, David Larwill’s early successes included the acquisition of paintings by the National Gallery of Victoria and the National Gallery of Australia, the former having acquired its third Larwill by 1984. Two years later he was commissioned by the Victorian Ministry for the Arts and Metropolitan Transit Authority to paint one of Melbourne's W-class trams. Commissions from Australian Opera, a painting for the Australian Football Hall of Fame, and the tapestry Celebration followed, the latter a gift from Victoria to Singapore's new Esplanade Art Centre. In 2002, his hometown gallery, the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery organised the touring exhibition David Larwill: Stuff that Matters.

With an engaging personality and strong character, Larwill has a passionate commitment to painting, blended with a touch of the larrikin and maverick, his interest in street art and graffiti coming out in his bold and cheeky imagery. As Ashley Crawford observed, 'His stance, like his work, is deliberately naive and simplistic. Yet Larwill is no fool: his career has been a careful balancing act between public clown and careerist’.1 Early influences included the CoBrA group, especially Karel Appel and Asgar Jorn, and Jean Dubuffet of Art Brut, together with the colour and 'all over' design of traditional kilim rugs. Experiences gained from visits to locations as diverse as the Northern Territory and New York were also influential. Larwill's art is often highly autobiographical. Personal narrative combined with strong visual appeal comes to the fore in Gentle Invention and other 1994 paintings such as Trading Places and Visitors. In addition to his engaging sense of colour, a feature of his art is the absence of a central image or single focus, his broad canvases populated by animated figures of people, tribal figures, dogs, snakes, trees and fish (Larwill loves fishing), often with the addition of surface writing. They are invariably things familiar to him. In his more political works he adds a keen social conscience, and in others he celebrates the joyous side of life – friendships, footy, and dogs.

1. Crawford, A., 'Portrait of the artist as larrikin', Age (Today), Melbourne, 1 September 1999, p. 7