Spring 2016 Auction Highlight Elwyn “Jack” Lynn

ELWYN “JACK” LYNN

“The traces of time are all around us and they have little effect on our senses that is, until it becomes time to paint the house”.

Elwyn Lynn

Lot 170 Elwyn Lynn - Shikamoto
Lot 170 Elwyn Lynn – Shikamoto

When he saw the work of the European artists Antonio Tapies and Emil Schumaker in 1958 Lynn’s eyes were opened to the visual excitement that time and the elements can induce. He was touring Europe and had seen their paintings at the Venice Biennale and was astounded that the weathering effect on ordinary everyday items could be the subject for sublime works of art.

He became an immediate enthusiast for textural paintings and was eager to explore the possibilities of this new form of expression and how it could relate to Australia with all its variables and ruggedness of climate.

Texture painting fitted perfectly into the Australian artistic oeuvre, but intellectually in the 50’s it was astray. Australia was isolated and not ready for abstraction – World War II was still fresh in the memory and abstraction was viewed as an international conspiracy. The influence of the traditional and modern figurative painters was in power and difficult to dislodge.

Lynn viewed this disinterest as a challenge and in addition to creating visually uplifting works he applied an intellectual component and titled his works accordingly.

He trusted that the viewer after digesting the visual and tactile elements of the artwork would search for the meaning of the title and understand how the piece fitted the name – unfortunately his trust was in vain. Very few rose to the challenge and visually his work failed to interest those outside of the major collecting institutions.

Lynn provided for his family through teaching, writing and critiquing and every spare moment saw him at work in his studio persisting and finding satisfaction in his output. He never lost confidence in his direction and persevered until the end. He knew that his position in Australian Art History could not be undone and the time for wider appeal of his works would arrive.

Lot 98 Elwyn Lynn - Epilogue
Lot 98 Elwyn Lynn – Epilogue

When he saw the work of the European artists Antonio Tapies and Emil Schumaker in 1958 Lynn’s eyes were opened to the visual excitement that time and the elements can induce. He was touring Europe and had seen their paintings at the Venice Biennale and was astounded that the weathering effect on ordinary everyday items could be the subject for sublime works of art.

He became an immediate enthusiast for textural paintings and was eager to explore the possibilities of this new form of expression and how it could relate to Australia with all its variables and ruggedness of climate.

Texture painting fitted perfectly into the Australian artistic oeuvre, but intellectually in the 50’s it was astray. Australia was isolated and not ready for abstraction – World War II was still fresh in the memory and abstraction was viewed as an international conspiracy. The influence of the traditional and modern figurative painters was in power and difficult to dislodge.

Lynn viewed this disinterest as a challenge and in addition to creating visually uplifting works he applied an intellectual component and titled his works accordingly.

He trusted that the viewer after digesting the visual and tactile elements of the artwork would search for the meaning of the title and understand how the piece fitted the name – unfortunately his trust was in vain. Very few rose to the challenge and visually his work failed to interest those outside of the major collecting institutions.

Lynn provided for his family through teaching, writing and critiquing and every spare moment saw him at work in his studio persisting and finding satisfaction in his output. He never lost confidence in his direction and persevered until the end. He knew that his position in Australian Art History could not be undone and the time for wider appeal of his works would arrive.

Spring 2016 Auction Highlight John Santry

Lot 2 John Santry - Farmyard Scene
Lot 2 John Santry – Farmyard Scene

Townscapes and landscapes and the creatures that inhabited them, all form part of the imagery that John Santry is famous for.

One of the first Australian artists to paint rural and urban scenes, his drawing skills and discipline allowed him to capture the areas he frequented, in a style unique to himself.

With his figure studies, he was able to find that hint of larrikin that permeates Australian society. His pastoral landscapes (that were usually painted on a Saturday) contain a serenity and stillness that became his hallmark.

Before the arrival of the émigré artists from Europe, the landscape was the main source of inspiration for the locals. Santry along with fellow members of the Northwood Group would pack their kits on most Saturday mornings and head to the countryside to paint. They wouldn’t return until dusk. George Lawrence, Lloyd Rees and Roland Wakelin were the other members and Douglas Dundas occasionally joined them.

They were sober trips, full of fun and work, with the ritual baked rabbit, pickled onion and bread roll being the meal of the day. The camaraderie between the group remained until the last. At some times they were each others crutch and at others a source of amusement. Wakelin would say “what’s the point in having friends if you can’t poke fun at them.”

Drawing skills and figurative work set Santry apart from the others. He conducted drawing classes from his home on Thursday afternoons and two of his early students were Brett Whiteley and Michael Johnson. He thought Whiteley was a talented showman with a great ability to draw portraits and Johnson equally as gifted though quieter.

Both established profiles much higher than his. He was never envious and drew comfort from his early and significant influence in their development.

Santry didn’t pursue critical success and never worked with large canvases. He had little need, as he was able to capture the breadth of the landscape on a small panel, and the spirit of a person with a few brush strokes.

He wasn’t a showman he was just quiet and disciplined, with a fine sense of humour.

Spring 2016 Auction Highlight Kathleen O’Connor

Lot 62 Kathleen O'Connor - Portrait of Frances Hodgkins
Lot 62 Kathleen O’Connor – Portrait of Frances Hodgkins

Kathleen O’Connor’s return to Australia from France in 1948 had an unfortunate consequence. Australian Customs in Fremantle impounded the artworks that she had sent from her Parisian studio and demanded 20% duty. The Custom’s officials had determined that as the paintings were foreign and had come to Australia for sale, duty was applicable. Unfortunately no amount of pleading by the artist or high powered intervention on her behalf could alter that ruling.

As she could not afford to pay the total duty, only 150 of the works survived and the balance was destroyed. In 1948 Australia, there were no arts programs in place to assist in her plight and we are left to ponder the enormity of the loss from a cultural and historical perspective. It was said that Miss O’Connor was vigilant in ensuring that the works she couldn’t afford to keep, were destroyed and did not get redirected.

Born in New Zealand in 1876 Kathleen O’Connor arrived in Western Australia in 1891. Her father, the celebrated engineer C.Y. O’Connor, had accepted the position of Engineer-in Chief with the Western Australian Government. She studied at the Perth Technical School under JWR Linton and at the Bushey School of Art in London under Frank Brangwyn and Hubert von Herkomer.

O’Connor settled in Paris in 1910 and apart from the war years lived and worked there until her return to Australia in 1948. She associated with many artists of her time including, Vuillard, Sickert, van Dongen, Modigliani and Chagall. Her Australasian associates included Rupert Bunny, Frances Hodgkins and Roy de Maistre.

Kathleen O’Connor identified the sitter in this work as Frances Hodgkins to Daniel Thomas during an interview. It was one of those works she chose to include in the 150 pieces she could afford to keep.

Timed Auctions A Step by Step Guide

The latest addition to GFL Fine Art online is the incorporation of Timed Auctions. Please read the following guide for more information on how to bid in one of GFL Fine Art’s timed online auctions.

 

 

Step 1: Registration

1.    Timed Auctions Menu:

You can view our current timed online auction by clicking on the Timed Auctions link in the menu on GFL Fine Arts website. On this page you will be able to view the online catalogue of artworks that are currently live at auction. Click the images for more information and to bid.

2.    Register for a GFL Fine Art Account:

To register for GFL’s timed auctions click here or select My Account in the dropdown menu under Timed Auctions. Follow the prompts on this page to register. Once you have created an account with GFL you can return to this page to log in during future visits, to bid in future auctions, or to manage your purchases, addresses and account details.

Clicking Bid on an artwork for the first time will direct you to the registrations and login page before you are able to bid.

GFL Fine Art requests that you are familiar with our Timed Auctions Conditions of Sale when registering. You can read the Conditions of Sale by clicking here or by selecting Conditions of Sale in the drop down menu under Timed Auctions.

3.    Browse the online catalogue:

Once the auction is live, artwork descriptions, images, estimates and bidding is available in the online catalogue throughout the duration of the auction. For a condition report or to arrange an inspection we encourage you to contact our specialists by emailing sales@gflfineart.com or by calling (08)9386 8577.

 

 

Step 2: Bidding

4.    Place a bid:

Bids may be submitted by clicking the blue Bid button under the artwork description on the artwork’s webpage. Bidding increments have been set prior to the auction by our auctioneer. Bids increase by either $10, $20, $50 or $100 based on the estimated value of the artwork. You may enter the maximum bid that you are willing to go to and our bidding platform will place incremental bids on your behalf as much as is required to ensure that you remain the highest bidder (up to your maximum bid). In cases when two equivalent maximum bids are submitted, the first bid received will take priority. If you are outbid at any time you will receive an email indicating this. You may then choose to enter another bid or not.

5.    Monitor your bids:

Once you have left a bid on a lot, you will be notified on screen if you are the highest bidder. If you are subsequently outbid, you will be notified by email and provided with a link to the artwork to increase your bid should you choose to do so. We encourage you to monitor your lots over the course of the auction to ensure that you remain the highest bidder up until the close of the auction.

6.    Auction closes:

An end time is displayed for each lot in the online catalogue. Lots will close in five minute increments.

7.    Your purchases:

If you remain the highest bidder, you will receive an email upon close of bidding notifying you of your purchase(s). To check the status of a particular lot, visit the individual lot page while logged into your GFL Fine Art account.

 

 

Step 3: Payments and Shipping

8.    Payment:

You will receive an email shortly after the auction prompting you to the payments webpage, there you can see your total charges (including buyers premium) along with payment instructions and a shipping quote. Payments of check or direct deposit are accepted. For more information on shipping please click here, or visit the Shipping link on the dropdown menu under Timed Auctions.

 

Please refer to our Conditions of Sale under any uncertainty and contact sales@gflfineart.com or phone (08)9386 8577.

Video Preview: Highlights of our Contemporary Collector’s Art Market August 2016

GFL Fine Art’s Communications Manager Olivia Gardner discusses the highlights of our Contemporary Collector’s Art Market Sunday Auction, August 2016. The auction includes works by Howard Taylor, William Boissevain, Marie Hobbs, Miriam Stannage, Ben Stack, Fern Petrie, Elwyn Lynn, Harald Vike, Joanna Lamb, Robert Juniper, Mac Betts and many more.

Auction Highlight Autumn 2016 Akio Makigawa

Lot 65 Akio Makigawa - Untitled
Lot 65 Akio Makigawa – Untitled

It is little known that the acclaimed Australian sculptor Akio Makigawafirst began his career here in Perth having travelled from his hometown Kyushu, Japan in 1974.

A skilled yachtsman, he moved to Perth with the intention of working an apprenticeship as a sail maker with Taskers where he had hoped to eventually learn enough to support himself to sail around the world.

It was through sailing that Makigawa met with the sculptor Tony Jones, and it was Jones who encouraged him to enrol in Claremont Technical College during the sailing off-season to nurture his artistic inclinations that he had left behind in Japan.

Makigawa’s time in Perth was important, not only did he meet his wife Calier at Claremont Tech., the education he received here would shape and define the unique style of work that he became so popular for.

“His Perth art education brought the young Japanese sailmaker into contact with Western-trained teachers and artists-in-residence whose backgrounds were, like his, elsewhere. …In Perth, Makigawa learned to measure his emerging practice against a cultural lineage that extended from the organic vitalism of Henry Moor to the Greenbergien formalism espoused by post-war British sculptors like Antony Caro.” (Adams, 2013, p. 115)

It was specifically his early solo shows at the Fremantle Arts Centre in 1979 and the Fremantle Art Gallery in 1980 that marked the beginning of the national and international attention Makigawa would grow to receive.

He became renowned for his artistic ability to capture the balance and poise of nature, the simplicity and elegance inherent in the materials he used. He had all the makings of the stoicism of his Japanese heritage, refined by the notions of contemporary western form. He was notorious for this instinct for the spirit of things, “mute, impassive marbles, in Makigawa’s hands, became profound representations of sublime human drama – the cyclical journey of life.” (Adams, 2013, p. 115)

This early figurative sculpture by Makigawa is an excellent example of his exquisite sense of symmetry, assured presence and his unique ability to recognise the opportunities of the material he selected.

His cultural background and acute bond with nature is evident in the elegance of the sculptured subject. The line of the neck tilting upwards so as to meet the onlooker with an admiring gaze offers an introverted and unimposing gesture which, as many have said for Makigawa’swork, emanates a quiet peacefulness or zen like quality. The stone itself seems to embody this character and the tones within the rock compliment the light and shadows that undulate the face.

Sourced from the Three Springs area, 300km north of Perth, the stone and subsequent sculpture is synonymous with his time here in Perth and is a tangible representation of this important period of growth in his career as an artist.

It is a rare item and the first from this era of Makigawa’s body of work to come to auction.

References

Adams, B. (2013). Marking the journey: the art of Akio Makigawa. In Akio Makigawa (pp. 113-121). Melbourne: Carlier Makigawa.

 

Auction Highlight Autumn 2016 Mike Parr

Lot 38 Mike Parr - Echolalia (The Road)
Lot 38 Mike Parr – Echolalia (The Road)

Mike Parr is a seminal figure in the contemporary Australian art scene. He is best known for his emergence as a performance artist and concept artist in the late 1960’s producing hundreds of performance and multimedia pieces during an important era for the development of that genre within the Australian art scene.

It was a time when performance art was not acknowledged as a visual art, which might explain why Parr emerged with such force.

One of his most renowned early works involved him seated calmly in front of an audience before beginning to attack his forearm with an axe, unbeknownst to the audience that he in fact suffered the loss of his arm as an infant and was wearing a prosthetic arm filled with mince and fake blood.

He is noted for performance works involving a great deal of stress to the physical body, such as an installation of the artist in a gallery for days without food and water, or 100 Breaths a visual/multimedia work during which, with 100 breaths, Parr breaths and holds a different etching to his face. As he suffers loss of oxygen in the bloodstream, his face – the focal point of the video – naturally disfigures and the viewer is subjected to the stress he is inducing on his body. In another work Parr’s face is sewn with thread to disfigure it into an expression of disgrace.

There is a stark contrast between his confrontational performance work and his pensive etchings. On one hand, Parr’s performance work is visceral, physically demeaning, abrasive and deeply concerned with notions of eliciting strong physical responses as well as cognitive; however, he also focuses on notions of memory and subjectivity.

It is these notions of memory and subjectivity that carry through to his etchings, what is lesser known about Parr is his love of drawing, lines and form. While he was making splashes in the 70’s for his controversial performances, he returned to his love of drawing in the 1980’s.

Parr began print making in 1987 when he was invited to create a print for the Bicentennial Folio (a joint commission of the National Gallery of Australia and the Australian Bicentennial Authority) and he has been creating prints ever since.

This work, Echolalia (The Road) – which can also be found in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia – delves into those notions of memory and subjectivity. “Parr has been fascinated with observation and the possibilities and responses of memory distortions. His ‘landscape’ prints are such depictions – memories of views passed by.” (National Gallery of Australia, n.d.)

Echolalia means a repetition of speech, or in this case, when applied to the notion of the road, the repetition of line can be seen as the landscape rushing past the window of a moving train or vehicle – an idea Parr was interested in – or delving deeper, one could interpret any metaphorical meaning of repetition, and road, in the context of space, time and existence.

Although he is best known for his bizarre, confronting and ground breaking performance works, artworks such as this etching by Parr are rare and coveted by the arts community.

References

National Gallery of Australia. (n.d.). Mike Parr. Retrieved May 20, 2016, from National Gallery of Australia Website: http://nga.gov.au/landscapes/Par.htm

 

Auction Highlight Autumn 2016 Nigel Thomson

During his brief life, Nigel Thomson fulfilled the enigmatic lifestyle of the struggling artist. He would fly by the seat of his pants, improvising and surviving based on his skills as an artist. Constantly on the search for adventure, his curiosity and drive sent him on a journey that would see him evolve as one of Australia’s lesser known, but no less important, contemporary artists of the 20th century.

Thomson was born in Mosman, New South Wales in 1945.As a boy, it is said that he lived near and passed by daily, the site where missing Sydney boy Graeme Thorne had been buried. It was a shock to the community and is an experience attributable to the development of Nigel’s style – a hyper realistic exploration of the ways that the seemingly meaningless can have sinister undertones.

He left school by the age of 15 and travelled before enrolling in the Julian Ashton School of Art. After graduating in 1965 he had a few unsuccessful shows in Sydney and finally ended up in Perth in the late 1960’s. It is here that Thompson began to flourish – while still maintaining a vagrant lifestyle, he hitchhiked across the Nullabor and spent his first night here on a park bench. Regardless, he secured a job in no time as an art teacher at a secondary school in Pinjarra. “With no documents and no qualifications that he could prove … He clinched the job with three drawings he had worked up the night before his interview.” (McDonald, 2004, p. 9)

Thomson became heavily involved in the arts community in Perth; he was especially active with the WA Contemporary Art Society where he was eventually appointed president in 1970. He won several prizes during his time here and taught evenings at Perth Tech. while preparing for exhibitions. The most noted being a solo show at Skinner Gallery in October 1972. The exhibition was well received with six works sold, one to the English actor Moira Lister who invited him to contact her should he ever find himself in London. And with that, he was off to London.

Thomson exhibited extensively during his travels through England and Europe in the 70’s, he exhibited especially through the Nicholas Treadwell Gallery, London – during the height of its popularity. During this time he fully realised his style of critical realism that he would become most noted for in Australia during the 80’s and 90’s after his return to Sydney in 1979.

Twice winner of the Archibald Prize, Thomson’s works are unapologetic and meticulously crafted with the intent to evoke. In another exhibition in Perth in the 80’s one critic called his works “’an unpleasant mixture of violence, callousness, insanity, terror and anxiety.’” (McDonald, 2004, p. 5)Somewhat valid although harsh descriptions of Thompsons works, however, once you begin to consider the context behind his works, each image opens a vault of interpretations with words more like ironic, witty, sardonic and clever springing to mind.

He consumed news headlines and popular culture incessantly, was possessed by the need to expose the hypocrisies of modern society and does so with subtle integrity. The sheer fact that Thomson’s works can elicit such powerful responses is only a testament to his staple within the canon of important contemporary Australian artists.

Lot 58 Nigel Thomson - Untitled
Lot 58 Nigel Thomson – Untitled

In this image, painted in 1985 during the apex of his career, we can see the subtle dichotomy between light and dark, innocence and menace. Upon closer inspection, the viewer will notice the delicate nuances that make Thomson’s work so intriguing. Once the eye looks past the unsettling large dog in the darkened foreground that overshadows the seemingly innocent child, you begin to notice the stuffing pulled from the teddy bear, the punctures in the doll, the menace behind the innocence of the child, and the innocence in expression behind the menace of the dog, you begin to question which subject is really in danger here.

The breadth of Thomson’s work is not extensive; he destroyed a large portion of his early works “describing them as acts of undergraduate humour or potboilers.” (McDonald, 2004, p. 7)

This, combined with his early death due to cancer in 1999, cut short a very promising body of work. In the past two decades since his death only four works have been offered on the secondary market making owners of his paintings the envy of any serious collector of contemporary Australian art.

References

McDonald, J. (2004). Nigel Thomson Critical Realist. Manly, NSW, Australia: Manly Art Gallery & Museum.

Auction Highlight Autumn 2016 Stacha Halpern

Lot 26 Stacha Halpern - Laura
Lot 26 Stacha Halpern – Laura

Stacha Halpern’s paintings are not easy to forget he would bound into them with an energy and verve that didn’t stop until they were completed. They leave an indelible impression in one’s mind and love them or hate them one never forgets them.

Halpern returned to Australia in 1966 but the reception his work received was disappointing for him. The scrap between the abstractionists and antipodeans was still in play and despite a successful career in France, the Australian public wasn’t ready for a naturalised expatriate whose images seemed to have a foot in both camps – figurative with the antipodeans and expressionist with the others. It would take almost three decades before the public was able to step up to the mark even though Halpern had champions along the way, desperately wanting to help the others to see.

Stan Rapotec, another émigré would say of his own career, after he was mistaken for an overnight sensation “…. I firmly and strongly believe now, that to build up an artist in any field you need twenty years of struggle – struggling, battling, performing, experimenting, exercising and, yes, exposing oneself in one’s work to the full brunt of criticism.”  Halpern had already served an apprenticeship in Paris – he had achieved prominence and success there in just fifteen years but that didn’t count in Australia, he still had his time to serve and one can be confident in saying that he would have given the time, as above all else – including his Polish birthplace and his European successes – he considered himself to be Australian.

Unfortunately Halpern didn’t have another 20 years to give and died through heart disease in 1969 – three years after his return.

Halpern’s position and effect in the international art scene of the 60’s is finally being respected in Australia. A Parisian art critic referred him to as an example of what young French artists should aspire to; he hung in galleries alongside Rothko, Guston and Frankenthaler. His works were exhibited at group and solo shows in Paris, Rome, New York, Amsterdam, Basle and Milan. And unlike many of those Australians that preceded him to Europe, he was to have a real effect in the international art scene, particularly in Paris.