‘Howard  Arkley: Paintings’, Coventry Gallery, Sydney, May 1977

‘Howard Arkley: Paintings’, Coventry Gallery, 56 Sutherland Street, Paddington, Sydney, 10-28 May 1977

Arkley’s first solo show outside Melbourne was held at the avant-garde Coventry Gallery in inner Sydney. Several of the canvases (possibly as many as four) had already been shown at Tolarno, and here Arkley reprised the minimal approach of his first two shows in – if anything – an even more reduced mode.

Sydney critics were generally unimpressed by this display of Melbourne cool, although W.E.Pidgeon, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, enjoyed the artist’s play on scientific and philosophical concepts (see biblio.; also under Borlase, McIntyre and Pidgeon, all 1977). Sales were mixed – in fact, several of the paintings were still in the artist’s collection at his death – but the gallery’s influential owner purchased cat.no.9 for his own collection.

Slides and installation photos (as reproduced here) help with identifications (only one work, no.5, remains unidentified). The paintings, as listed in the check-list, were as follows:

1.   Operations (spread enclose filling) (165 x 240 cm; $550) = Operations, Notch, Trim 1975: installation photos clearly demonstrate that this was the work shown at Tolarno 9/95 (cat.1: as Operations, Notch, Trim, Spread); presumably, it was also the painting first shown at Tolarno 4/75 (cat.3) as Operations, Notch, Trim

2.   Still Life D.E. (Linear analysis) (1976) (160 x 210: $450): presumably the work first shown as Still Life (Linear Analysis) at Tolarno 8/76 (cat.7)

3.   Actuality (is the void between events) 1976 (160 x 210: $450): first shown at Tolarno 8/76 (cat.3)

4.   Recording (wave study) 1976 (160 x 210; $450)

5.   Tracing (Liquid) (165 x 240; $550): presumably identical with Tracing (1975?), as shown at Tolarno 4/75 (cat.2)

6.   A Piece called Nerve (1975) (165 x 240; $550): although not visible in the Coventry installation shots, this was almost certainly the work first shown with this title at Tolarno 4/75 (cat.1), and again at Tolarno 9/95 (cat.2)

7.   Organic Model A (Thought Form) 1976 (160 x 210; $450)

8.   Organic Model D (Intuitive Reason) (160 x 210; $450) = Organic Model (Intuitive Reason) (1976), presumably identical with the canvas first shown as Organic Model D (Intuitive Reason) at Tolarno 8/76, cat.6. This work was later exhibited under several different titles – as Primal (Thought Form) at HA Monash 1991 (cat.11); Organic Model at HA Tolarno 9/95 (cat.4); and Organic Model (Intuitive Reason), in the Arkley retrospective, 2006-7

9.   Organic Model G (Black Square) 1976 [Coventry] (160 x 210; $450): this is the black and white version of this composition, subsequently owned by Chandler Coventry himself (and presumably purchased from this exhibition); not to be confused with the coloured version first shown in HA Tolarno 8/76 (cat.9) as Primal (Thought Forms), and then in HA Monash 1991 (cat.13) and the 2006-7 Arkley retrospective: see Organic Model G (Black Square) 1976 [Tolarno]

(photos: Installation shots showing cat.nos.1-4, viewed by Ashley Crawford [below], and cat nos.7-9 [above] [Arkley archive])