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Tony Clark: Chinoiserie Landscape 1987 - 2017

17 Feb 2018
Murray White Room 16 Feb - 29 Mar 2018

Paul Taylor’s famous ‘Popism’ manifesto of 1982 included an exhortation to Australian artists to embrace the gulf separating them from the traditional centres of Western art history, to craft an art ‘born in mediation, gestated within the camera, where things are naturally upside-down, and expressed in a carnivalesque array of copies, inversions and negatives’. The same year, Tony Clark held his first solo exhibition, at John Nixon’s Art Projects in Melbourne, consisting of a series of modest, sloppily painted canvas boards depicting classical architectural and sculptural motifs arranged along a wooden shelf under the elusive title Technical Manifesto of Town Planning. To some, Clark’s work seemed the perfect embodiment of Taylor’s ideas, seeming to delight in its own poverty, in the comic mismatch between the grand traditions to which it referred and the amateurish, haphazard nature of its painting. This tension is perhaps at its most pronounced in the Sacro-Idyllic Landscapes of 1983, which reduced the twin tropes of classical landscape painting (classical architecture embedded in idyllic nature) to almost pathetic smudges set against monochrome grounds.

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