Floral Design with Roses, 2002 signed, dated and inscribed 'Tony Clark / 2002 / London 2002' verso oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas 76 x 76cm (29 15/16 x 29 15/16in).
PROVENANCE: Purchased from Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, March 2002
EXHIBITED: ARCO 2002, Madrid, Spain, Exhibited by Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, 14-19 February 2002
Many artists can be described as obsessive, and Tony Clark is truly amongst them. Self-taught, Clark emerged in the manic days of Melbourne's early 1980s, a time of a fledgling punk scene where artists flocked to see the Go Betweens and Nick Cave's band The Birthday Party. Independent galleries were springing up such as Art Projects where Clark would show alongside such 'avantgarde' artists as John Nixon, Mike Parr and Jenny Watson. But Clark stood out amongst his contemporaries. His early work, dubbed Sacro Idyllic Landscapes, were sumptuous and moody renderings of European style topography an approach that flew in the face of what was considered to be 'hip' at the time. Despite that fact, critics, curators and collectors alike were bewitched. Clark went on to explore a number of themes, taking such subjects as Shakespeare, exotic bird life and the semi-kitsch Chinoiserie, a French term that refers to European referencing of Chinese art that dates back to the 17th Century. Clark has said that he is fascinated by "The Shock of the Old"1, and indeed, if there is a central subject in his work, it is his referencing of the antique. Eschewing notions of finesse Floral Design with Roses 2002 clearly captures the essence of the rose in a painting that is as timeless as its' subject.
1 Interview with the author in, Shock of the Old, Australian Art Collector 2009