My recent visit to the HOWARD ARKLEY (and friends…) exhibition did not disappoint. It was so interesting that I managed to go out for a second look and to be there for their Public Forum: The work of Howard Arkley. The forum included personal observations and life stories by fellow Artists, students and friends of Arkley, as well as curatorial comments by TWMA director Victoria Lynn and Curator of the show Anthony Fitzpatrick .
I must admit at this point, that prior to this TWMA exhibition, I would not have described myself as a devotee of Arkley’s art practice. It was being able to sit amongst his ethereal early works, ‘Seltsamer’ 1975, Organic Model G ( Black Square ) 1976 or my favorite ‘Oriental ( Wave Study ) 1974, as shown below, that I was able to gain better understanding of the full artistic range possible by Arkley the artist.
In the first room titled, ‘White Paintings’, the walls are filled with his early 70’s works. TWMA also created the opportunity for us to listen to a selection of Arkley’s favorite jazz music – a source of inspiration in the studio, when he was experimenting with this series of works.
The curatorial link – selecting a room full of ‘White Paintings’ worked well for me as a visual demonstration of the ‘Role of Music’ in an Artists work. It required time of the visitor to sit and listen to the selections with the headphones. I am sure familiarity with the music was a big advantage, but even so, the addition of music in this abstract segment of the exhibition allowed those uneasy with pure abstraction or the visual concept put forward by Swiss artist Paul Klee, that of ‘Taking a line for a walk’ to relax into these.
The inclusion of HIS Music, also offered us a new way in to seeing the essence of Howard Arkley’s early works. It offered us a glimpse into one moment in his life-long dialogue with abstraction.
The rest of the TWMA exhibition was more predictable for me, but interesting nonetheless. It was a timely look at one of Melbourne’s significant contemporary artists, sadly now lost to us. The TWMA show spans works from his career of 1974 to 1999, and displays over 60 paintings by Arkley; some works from private collections that have not been shown before. It is well worth a look and I highly recommend getting there before it closes.
“The exhibition introduces three distinctive perspectives of Arkley: his archive, his music and his friends. Photographs, visual diaries, sketch books and source materials from the SLV collection help to reveal Arkley’s ideas, influences and working methods.”