Malcolm Enright Collection, Brisbane
Phillips De Pury & Company, 20th Century Art & Design Auction, Sydney, 2 May 1999, Lot No. 89
Eva Breuer Art Dealer, Sydney
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2000
Bad Faith Realism, Yuill/Crowley, Sydney, 1991
G Coulter-Smith, C Davidson & G Forsyth, John Young, Silhouettes and Polychromes 1979-1992, Schwartz City, Melbourne, 1993, illus. p.113
W Wright & C Barnes, John Young, Craftsman House, Sydney, 2005, illus. pl.18, p. 94 (exhibition photo) & p. 96
Despite the impression of working to a grid, John Young’s work embraces what he called in his Propositions for the Polychrome Paintings (1989) “irregularities, anomalies, mistakes…such as the coarse surface, the precarious lines, blotches of colour”.
This work was first shown in 1991 at Yuill/Crowley, Sydney, in an exhibition titled Bad Faith Realism, an express reference to Young’s disdain at the direction of the art market and the over-influence of economic factors on curators and public collections. Inspired directly by the performative repetition of On Kawara, Young’s Polychrome works define anti-consumerist sentiment in a visually coherent language of colour, grid and line.
In many respects, the Babysitter Series (Unique Chance Paintings), 1991, are the crowning monument to his Polychrome project. Beginning with grids of hundreds of colours, the Babysitter paintings include just eight rectangular sections, all extracted and magnified from existing Polychrome paintings. Drawing on Baudrillard’s notions of “hyperreality”, Young’s playful and self-referential practice encourages the viewer to reflect on the physical act of painting in series.