Chinoiserie Landscape, 1987-1993
oil on canvas panel
30.2 x 22.7 cm each panel (diptych)
signed, dated & inscribed with title ‘Chinoiserie/Landscape/1987-93/Tony Clark’ (on the reverse)
Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
Colin & Elizabeth Laverty collection, Sydney
"Most Chinoiserie works consist of painted renditions of small plasticine models Clark made after classical funerary buildings, often given a Chinese inflexion via upturned gables in the manner of pagoda architecture. These ropy little structures hover in front of the flattest of painted backgrounds; the globular, biomorphic shapes of tri-color military camouflage. Camouflage: the painted ornament that dissimulates objects by taking on a look of generalised vegetal form and colour....
Camouflage has a visual variegation that, when (mis)matched with Clarke's Pagoda Temple images, kept the Chinoiserie Landscapes in the realm of the isolated easel picture. True decoration needs sameness to expand out over architectural surfaces." (Roger Benjamin, "Tony Clark - Mysteries of the Villa Sino-Romana", Art and Text, No.44, 1993, p.40)
After first exhibiting the series in the late 1980s, Clark has since revisited this theme with new variations on the theme exhibited in Chinoiserie Landscape 1987-2017, Murray White Room, Melbourne (2018).
Tony Clark is a leading conceptual painter who has exhibited extensively in Australia and Europe for more than 30 years. He was born in Canberra, but has lived in London, Melbourne and Rome. He now divides his time between Sicily and Australia. It is in the European cities that the artist developed an early and longstanding passion for classical art, architecture, landscape painting and literature. Returning to Australia in the 1970s, he became a major figure in Melbourne’s experimental art and music scenes with the likes of Nick Cave and Howard Arkley. Clark studied art history but was a self-taught painter. His celebrated contemporary paintings are forged from this fascination with the artistic traditions of the past.
Wayne Tunnicliffe, head of Australian Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, has written of Clark's work "Pop, classicism and conceptual art have converged to provide an echo-chamber where each strand could comment on the other".
Recent solo exhibitions include: 'Chinoiserie Landscape 1987-2017', Murray White Room, Melbourne (2018); 'Tony Clark, Villa Sino – Turk – Romana', 11M2, Project Space Festival, Berlin (2018); and 'Design for a Chinoiserie Landscape', Sullivan + Strumpf, Singapore (2018). A major retrospective, 'Tony Clark – Public and Private Paintings 1982-1998', was held at Heide Museum of Modern Art, 1998. Clark also featured in the prestigious 'Documenta IX', Kassel, Germany (1992).
Clarke's work is well represented in public collections including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth. His work is also held many national and international private collections. Tony Clark is represented by Murray White Room, Melbourne.