Untitled [House] (1999)

Synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 203 x 153

Private collection, Melbourne

This work, preserved in Arkley’s studio at his death, appears to have been his final completed painting, thus concluding a remarkable sequence of works based on the same suburban composition, dwelling repeatedly on the motif of a prominent bush outside a window shaded by a striped blind.

This theme first appeared in Our Home (1986), where the dark bush looms menacingly outside the red brick house. Later variants, all in vertical format, were produced each year from 1994 onwards, taking diverse stylistic paths. Spray Veneer 1994, for instance, subjects the house to an array of pulsating linear patterns, and the ‘monstrous’ bush has become a two-tone blue fantasy. By contrast, stencilled ‘floriated’ patterning invades Floral Facarde [sic] 1995, in a Baroque display of hot hues, whereas Dull Home 1998 [W/P] envelops the house in a mist of light grey and pastel colour. Other variants from 1995-99 explore other possibilities, from monochrome to candy-coloured.

The present canvas brings this sequence to a highly stylised, monumental close. The planes of the building meet in forceful contrasts of tone and colour, the pink of the roof tiles is echoed by the stripes of the blind, and the bush has been completely tamed, now a docile cartoon-like creature keeping watch. The stripped-down aesthetic exemplifies the spare, clarified artistic language Arkley had developed in his last phase, especially in his freeways.


  • Artist’s collection
  • Private collection