Tuesday, 20 March 2007

"Howard Arkley is the foremost painter of Australian suburbia, known for his iconic pop images of fibro and brick veneer houses and vibrantly coloured domestic interiors," says the promotional e-mail I received today from the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

"Throughout a three decade career he was also preoccupied with abstraction, patterning and decoration. This exhibition surveys both strands of his practice, bringing together paintings of the great Aussie dream home and his hallucinatory abstractions."

The Arkley exhibition runs from 10 March to 6 May.

I'm always troubled by the word 'iconic'. In this blurb it seems to mean that Arkley, who died in 1999 tragically young, has left a rich legacy. By 'rich' I mean fiscally. His paintings are not cheap.

The Wikipedia is less flamboyant. "Arkley was a major presence in the Australian art world and his exhibitions were significant events."

I think that the overused word 'iconic' deserves a rest. It has a popularist spin that enables the object so designated to escape the tag of high culture yet retain exclusiveness by way of wealth. It means that everyone can like whatever is being so described and, in the art milieu, suggests collectibility.

Regardless of the spin the gallery's PR staff have put on Arkley's work, I will certainly be attending this exhibition. They won't put me off. Arkley is terrific.

2 comments:

Matthew said...

Is this the same exhibition that showed at the NGV until February?

Dean said...

Yes.