Tribal, 1983 signed and inscribed 'David Larwill / "Tribal" / Sept 83' verso synthetic polymer paint on canvas 181 x 153cm (71 1/4 x 60 1/4in).
PROVENANCE: Purchased from Garry Anderson Gallery, Sydney
EXHIBITED: Vox Pop: Into the Eighties, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1983, cat. no. 24
By 1984 David Larwill had become something of an art-world celebrity. He had emerged from the rambunctious ROAR Galleries, of which he was one of the founders, as a maverick spokesman for the notion of essentially expressionistic and personal expression in painting during a time when conceptual art was high fashion. Larwill managed to break through the art world biases via his unique sensibility and roguish charm. Tribal was first shown in the seminal 1984 exhibition Vox Pop at the National Gallery of Victoria alongside works by such artists as Howard Arkley, Peter Booth, Gareth Sansom and Jenny Watson. For Larwill painting was about the "stuff that matters" his mates, the trustworthy dog rather than high-end intellectualism and Tribal is a perfect case in point. While the original ROAR group had splintered they remained close friends, but during this period, despite his burgeoning professional success, Larwill had felt somewhat adrift and restless without the immediacy of day-to-day interaction with his 'tribe', thus the hints of melancholy seen in this painting. But simultaneously the lop-sided grin of the figure clutching spears (Larwill was a great lover of all things 'primitive') suggests the preparation for further adventures, which indeed, he went on to accomplish.
1 Interview with the author in The Goblin Force, Art & Australia, Vol. 38, No. 2, 2000.