Stephen Bush (born 1958) Farm Hands, 1987

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Lot 5
Stephen Bush
(born 1958)
Farm Hands, 1987

AU$ 7,000 - 10,000
US$ 4,800 - 6,800
Stephen Bush (born 1958)
Farm Hands, 1987
titled and dated verso: 'FARM HANDS / 27/10/87 - 10/11/87'
oil on linen
121.0 x 83.5cm (47 5/8 x 32 7/8in).

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE
    Powell Street Gallery, Melbourne
    Private collection, Sydney, acquired from the above in 1988

    LITERATURE
    Peter Cripps, 'Interview with Stephen Bush', Stephen Bush & Janet Burchill, The Lewers Bequest and Penrith Regional Art Gallery, New South Wales, 1988, p. 8

    'In the early episodes of the excellent television series The West of the Imagination, we were shown examples of the American West as it was envisaged before the first artists travelled there. The artists painted from their imagination: when eventually confronted by the reality of the New Frontier, some of them continued to depict it in terms of a romantic idealism.

    In an interview, Stephen Bush speaks enthusiastically about some of these American artists, including Frederick Church, whose vast panorama views of North America are said to have created a sensation among his countrymen.

    What is important in relation to Bush's recent monochrome paintings is that Church's talent for 'theatrical travelogues', which also included the natural wonders of his homeland, led him to display his paintings flanked by curtains and surrounded by the appropriate flora and fauna in the manner of a diorama.

    Bush is interested in the blurred distinctions between what is real, ideal and artificial in representations of the landscape. With his knowledge of early American landscape painting, he must see the irony of Church, as a master of scientifically accurate detail, being unable to escape the 19th century's demands for an art that blends the real and the ideal.

    For Bush, an artist who grew up with what he describes as "a dual fix of Australian and American culture", the myths of the ideal West, as fabricated by Wild Bill Cody and others, are interchangeable with those of the Western District of Victoria. His are paintings in which farm hands act like Hollywood cowboys and tractors become symbols of not so much rural progress as symbols of the failure of an ideal.' 1

    1. Robert Rooney, 'East is East and West is Best...', The Weekend Australian, 17 - 18 September 1988, p. 13
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