Rococo Rhythm 1992

Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 173 x 135
signed, dated and titled 
Coll.: unknown
(last auctioned June 2019)

As the authors of Spray observe, this work is an excellent example of the way in which Arkley ‘subverts realist notions of light and perspective’ in the ‘Mix’n Match’ series, here specifically exploring formal effects of ‘positive and negative lighting’.

In interviews conducted in preparation for the 1992 ‘Mix’n Match’ catalogue (unpublished manuscript, quoted in part in Gregory 1992), Arkley insisted that he did not intend to develop a ‘room-by-room description’ of the suburban house in this exhibition. Nevertheless, this image of the bedroom – the shrine of the traditional suburban house – resonates with particularly mysterious qualities of exaggerated perspective and lighting.

The carpet reveals a meticulous play of pattern and tone, beckoning the eye from the darker foreground, via a seething rug, to the glowing bed, rich with passionate colour and the seductive patterns suggested by the work’s title. In the process, Arkley brilliantly transformed the bland, clinical source image, derived from Gold’s Instant Decorator, into a tour-de-force of controlled intensity.

NB in earlier editions of this catalogue, this painting was reproduced back to front.


  • Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne
  • Private collection, Melbourne, acquired from the above, Nov.1992
  • Auctioned by Sotheby’s, Sydney, 27 Aug.2019 (details and photo as shown here; est.$800,000-$1 million; sold for $1,098,000 inc.B/P ($900,000 hammer price)


  • HA Tolarno 10/92 (‘Mix’n Match’), cat.2 (details as above)
  • HA retrospective 2006-7  (shown in Melbourne only)
  • HA TarraWarra 12/15-2/16 (ill.)


  • Spray 107 (quoted above; with ill.)