Tony Clark

Design for an outdoor landscape I & II, 2017-18
acrylic and permanent marker inks on canvas
2 panels: 61 x 91 cm (overall)
signed, dated and inscribed ‘Tony Clark/DESIGN FOR/AN OUTDOOR/LANDSCAPE I/2017-18’ (on the reverse of panel 1) and ‘Tony Clark 2017-18/Design for an outdoor/landscape II’ (on the reverse of panel 2)

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The artist

2018 Group Exhibition, Sullivan & Strumpf, Sydney, 10-24 February 2018

Design for an outdoor landscape I & II (2017) is a related work to Tony Clark’s Myriorama body of work, a project of more than three decades that the artist began in 1985. Literally meaning “ten thousand scenes”, Myriorama was first coined by the English artist John Clark (no relation), who created a series of landscape cards that could be conjoined or arranged in any order to create new views and combinations. With just 16 cards, a staggering 28 billion unique combinations could be created along a shared horizon line or in disjointed grids, a pursuit which became a popular children’s game in the early nineteenth century.

The two panels of Design for an outdoor landscape I & II are self-appropriations, reusing the compositions of two panels from Landscape 1992-94, a 72-panel myriorama work in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (below, with detail). Instead of the broad, continuous brushstrokes that characterise that work, Clark enlarges the composition and breaks it apart into short brushstrokes that resemble ancient Roman mosaic.

  • Design for an outdoor landscape I & II

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In a career that has traversed landscape and abstract painting, Tony Clark is one of Australia's leading conceptual artists, renowned for his decades-long series that examine popular cultural phenomena through history. 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".

Born in Canberra in 1954, Tony Clark currently lives and works in Sicily, Italy and Essen, Germany. Raised in London and Rome, and after formative years 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. A self-defined “punk classicist”, for over four decades Clark has sought to challenge conventional art historical narratives and with large-scale compositions of explosive colour and archetypal forms. Prominent series have included his “sacro-idyllic” landscapes of the early 1980s, drawn from the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, his Chinoiserie series (since 1987) in which he made plasticine miniatures of pagodas and painted them with bold, expressive backgrounds, and his Myriorama series (since 1985) in which he has created hundreds of landscape panels that can be arranged and interchanged freely, just like the Victorian children's game of the same title.

Tony Clark has exhibited for four decades and features in major public and private collections in Australia and abroad. A major retrospective, Tony Clark – Public and Private Paintings 1982-1998, was held at the Heide Museum of Modern Art, 1998. Clark also featured in the prestigious dOCUMENTA IX, Kassel, Germany (1992).