‘Howard Arkley: Recent Paintings – Houses and Homes’, Tolarno, Aug.-Sept.1988

‘Howard Arkley: Recent Paintings – Houses & Homes’, Tolarno Galleries, 88 River Street, South Yarra, 13 Aug.-3 Sept.1988.

Arkley had included suburban houses in several earlier shows (Roslyn Oxley9 1983, Tolarno 1983, Tolarno 1986 and Roslyn Oxley9 1987), but this was his first exhibition essentially devoted to the theme, surveying a range of different suburban house types, from the established upper middle class ‘home’, to inner-city flats and the newer outer suburban building style, and also including the first of his ‘shadow factories’.

Many of the pictures, such as Stucco House (featured on the invitation, reproduced under the general introduction for 1988), contained extensive passages of gestural paint-work and intricate, vividly coloured detail, thus enriching and complicating the initial impression of suburban blandness and uniformity. Juliana Engberg pinpointed this complexity of tone, in her review in Agenda magazine (August 1988), concluding: ‘After viewing Houses and Homes it is impossible to continue to consider the suburbs as dull pockets of frustration and stagnation, rather it must be said that through Howard Arkley we see suburbia as a place of colour, nuance and variety.’

The artist’s archive contains a comprehensive set of installation slides, and a list of the original 1988 purchasers and prices (all the paintings from the show except no.4 were sold). Installation photos reproduced here show cat.nos.1-3, and 4,5,6, 9 and 7 (via archive slides).

Works listed in the check-list – actually headed ‘The Home Show’ – are as follows:

1.      Triple Fronted 1987 (shown the previous year at Roslyn Oxley9)

2.      Family Home (1988)

3.      Brick Veneer with Feature Window 1988

4.      Modern O.Y.O.Flats (1988): a variant of O.Y.O.Flats (1987), shown the previous year at Roslyn Oxley9.

5.      Stucco House 1988

6.      Home, Eastern Suburbs (1988)

7.      Hedge on Street Corner 1988

8.      Contemporary Units (1988)

9.      Shadow Factories (1988)