The “Great Australian Dream” is a national reverie from which we have not entirely awoken. At its most vivid in 1950s and 1960s it flourished in a time of full employment, burgeoning wealth and the sub-urbanisation of Australian cities. Central to the nation’s aspiration was the idea that success and security could be measured through the ownership of a quarter acre block and detached house with garden, barbecue, hills hoist and later, from the 1970s, a swimming pool. Artists, writers and film-makers, however, were suspicious, and the dream was ridiculed and parodied in paintings of John Brack, Nino Culotta’s They’re a Weird Mob (1957) and Robyn Boyd’s critique of Australian architecture, The Australian Ugliness (1960). Howard Arkley (1951-1999), perhaps the most enthusiastic creator of suburban iconography, occupied a period between “the dream” and its imminent demise. If Arkley’s work was at all critical, his critique was tempered by ambivalence; occasional disdain but mostly nostalgia and romance.Thoroughly Modern brings together a new generation of artists after Howard Arkley, who with Modernist art, design and architecture as their tools, revisit and reinterpret the utopian dreams of post-war Australia.
Artists:Janet Angus, Grant Hill, Alex Lewis, Matthew de Moiser, Stephanie Wilson, Danny Wild
Image: Stephanie Wilson, Palm Down, oil on canvas, 107 x 122cm; photo courtesy of the artist; photography by Brenton McGeachie
Stephanie Wilson is represented by Martin Browne Contemporary, Sydney
Matthew de Moiser Home Sweet Home courtesy of the artist and Noella Lopez Gallery