Figurative 1981

Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 200 x 120

signed, dated and titled [on reverse]

Coll.: unknown

It now seems probable that the work reproduced here, as shown at Metro 5 in 2002 and auctioned in 2003 (with title and details as noted above), is identical with the painting shown as ‘Figurative’ at Tolarno in July 1981. However, there is some uncertainty about this identification, due to discrepancies in size (the other canvases in the Tolarno show were c.160 cm square), and the fact that the present work does not appear in the 1981 installation photos.

In the first edition of this catalogue (June 2010), it was suggested that this painting may have been identical with the work shown as ‘Primitive Silver’ in Arkley’s solo show at the Quentin Gallery, Perth, Feb.-March 1985 (cat.7). But it now seems likely that that work was either the right-hand canvas from the Buxton Collection diptych Primitive Gold / Primitive Silver 1981 or (less probably) Primitive Silver 1984. All these works are obviously closely related to Primitive [mural] (1981) [W/P] and Primitive Silver 1982.


  • P/C Sydney ( Metro 5, 2002, and Sotheby’s 2003)
  • auctioned by Sotheby’s, Sydney, 25 Aug.2003, lot 147 (details as above; ill.; est.$20-30,000: sold for $23,000 plus buyer’s premium)


  • (probably) HA Tolarno 7/81, cat.12: as ‘Figurative’ (see comments above)
  • HA Metro 5, Melbourne, 2/02, cat.15: as ‘Figurative 1981’ (priced at $80,000)