LRG COLLECTION: CBUS
COLLECTION OF AUSTRALIAN ART
As advised by Dr Joseph Brown AO OBE
In 1990 the building industry superannuation fund CBUS decided to buy a collection of Australian art as part of its investment portfolio. The Fund asked Dr Joseph Brown one of Australia leading art advisors to acquire Aboriginal, colonial and twentieth century Australian art. Dr Brown recommended that the Trustees agree to loan the paintings, prints and drawings to regional galleries, making them accessible to the members of the Fund and to the general public. Latrobe Regional Gallery was asked to manage the Collection on behalf of CBUS. The three hundred works are housed across a number of regional galleries and are made available for exhibition to public galleries across Australia.
Here are some of the works in the Collection.
APM Rain, Steam & Speed
Oil on linen
100 x 244.2 cm
Mandy Martin is an Australian artist whose work is concerned with issues of the environment, pollution and climate change. Her works are large and thickly painted giving them an edgy and tactile quality. Mandy has visited the Latrobe Valley on a number of occasions to paint the power stations and heavy industry of the region.
1887 – 1935
Oil on canvas
52.1 x 62 cm
Clarice Beckett studied at the National Gallery School in Melbourne under Fredrick McCubbin during the First World War. She was a leading artist in Australian Tonalism and influenced by Max Meldrum’s theory that art should be a pure science based and optical observation. Clarice spent most of her adult life in Beaumaris where she painted the atmospheric effects of light on the landscapes of Port Phillip Bay, mainly on small canvases.
24 Variations On a Theme by Paganini
Gouache, watercolour and dry brush on paper
132.4 x 186.5 cm
Robert Clinch is a self-taught artist who paints urban landscapes in meticulous detail. Robert explains that ‘The twenty four window openings have all evolved separate personalities while still sharing the same obvious parentage. Each of the three floors, like the three movements typical of a concerto for violin and orchestra, has its own variation of the polychromic brickwork.’
Circa 1915 – 1998
Argyle Diamond Mine
Natural pigments and binder on canvas
90.3 x 159.5 cm
Queenie McKenzie was a Gija artist from the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. She only started painting in the last ten years of her life. She used natural pigments that included soft pink and pale violet made from ochre from the surrounding country. This work, abstracted into diamond shapes depicts the hills, with the road between Lissadell station and Texas Downs winding through the centre.
1867 – 1943
Balmain & Leichhardt
Oil on wooden panel
33.7 x 83.4 cm
Arthur Streeton was an Australian Impressionist and leading member of the Heidelberg school of artists. He was influenced by the French Impressionists and the works of J.M.W. Turner. This plein-air or outdoor painting was painted from Ball’s Point on the north side of Sydney Harbour. If you look to the left of the painting you can see the headlands which the harbour bridge now spans.
1875 – 1963
Coastal Gums (aka Australian Gum Blossoms)
Oil on canvas
58.5 x 58.5cm
Margaret Preston paintings and prints showed her deep interest in Australian flora as unique and distinct from introduced species. She travelled widely and became fascinated by Japanese design especially wood block prints from which she drew inspiration. Her paintings feature asymmetrical composition, pattern and strong contrast.
1921 – 2013
Study for a Man with Bouquet
Oil on Canvas on Board
65 x 55cm
Jeffrey Smart’s paintings show the beauty of the man-made landscape with an architectural precision. His choice of perspective isolates the viewer from the subject, whilst his clean lines and sharp colours create compositions that pop with vibrancy. Smart’s work has a surrealist feel to it but the artist contends that it is the modern urban world that is surreal and his paintings are depictions of it. In this painting light and open spaces are off set with dark and shadow creating a sense of drama and foreboding.
Emily Kame Kngwarreye
c. 1910 – 1996
Synthetic Polymer Paint on Canvas
123 x 103.2cm
Emily Kame Kngwarreye was an Anmatyerre artist from Utopia in the Northern Territory. She only took up painting seriously when she was almost eighty after previously creating designs in batik on silk. She was one of Australia’s most prominent contemporary artists even having one of her paintings Yam Dreaming as a livery on a Qantas jet which was named after her. Her transition from batik to painting saw the use of similar techniques of layering of colour upon colour on her canvases. This painting Flower Dreaming is one of the recurring themes of the artist’s work and is informed by her spiritual relationship with the country around Utopia.
Black + Black + Black – At The Close of This Fierce Vision
Oil and Wax on Canvas
170 x 220cm
In Lee’s early work she used a photocopier to reproduce old masters. She would run the sheet through the copier overprinting many times until the toner had nearly obliterated the image, creating portraits that looked vaguely familiar but unidentifiable. When moving to working on canvas she aimed for a similar result by scraping back thick layers of oil and wax to reveal dark textured images. In this work we can just make out a detail of Theodore Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa.
1947 – 2014
Enamel on Plywood
122.1 x 242.1cm
Robert Hunter was an Australian abstract artist who used subtle shades of white and painters tape to create geometric shapes and patterns. He never finished art school and spent his early years working as a house painter and used the same paint in his artworks. Hunter was highly regarded by many fellow artists, but the wider advancement of his reputation was arguably hindered by the difficulty of reproducing his work in magazines, books and online. The works were all white because Robert Hunter believed it had no emotional content or message.
Acrylic on canvas
166.2 x 166.2 cm
John Firth-Smith is an abstract artist who uses large blocks of colour often divided by a diagonal line to represent earth, sea, fire and wind. The colour he chooses for the background and its contrast to the diagonal creates a balance in tone and composition. As Firth-Smith explains “I think the edge of the picture, it’s not the edge that is where you place things. It’s the fact that it’s like a box and you have to put things into it.”
Witchetty grub and Honey Ant Dreaming
Synthetic polymer paint on canvas
93.1 x 94.2 cm
Sandra Nampitjinpa is a contemporary artist from Yuendumu in the Northern Territory. She learned to paint from her father Paddy Parapata Tjangala. She was one of the first women to join Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd in the early 1980s. The honey ant is a traditional source of bush tucker in central Australia lives in underground tunnels that can be identified by their vents.
1925 – 2006
Acrylic on board
74 x 89.3 cm
John Coburn was an Australian abstract painter, print maker and tapestry designer. He consistently used strong flat colours and organic shapes in his work “I want to express my feeling about nature and the world.” He was known for his strong Christian faith and won the Blake Prize for religious art on two occasions. He was also was commissioned to produce many works for church’s and other public institutions such as the Sydney Opera House. In this work Barrier Reef we can see his stylised depictions of coral and reef life.
1920 – 2017
From Alice Springs to Kimberley (1937)
Oil on linen
119.5 x 138.7 cm
Yosl Bergner lived for a short time in the Kimberley region of the Western Australia later moving to Melbourne. He was friends with artists Albert Tucker, Arthur Boyd and Sidney Nolan. Like them he developed a social realist approach which aims to portray scenes and characters without embellishment depicting hardships of the human condition and of nature. In this painting we can see his use of thick impasto paint and heavy brush strokes showing a journey by car across the vast distances of the outback he remembered from his youth.
Oil on canvas on board
111.5 x 81 cm
Janet Dawson is known for producing paintings in a wide range of media, techniques and genres, but it was for her figurative works that she became most well-known. In this portrait of a ballerina the artist uses a dark contrasting background to emphasise the athletic figure of her subject. Light loose brushstrokes highlight the translucency of the tulle of the tutu.
Dr Joseph Brown
Oil on linen
152 x 152 cm
This portrait was commissioned by CBUS and was selected as a Finalist in the 2008 Archibald Prize at the Art Gallery of NSW. The artist met art collector, advisor and gallerist Dr Brown at an exhibition opening in 2007. Hong said “I had a strong impression of a very special character. In the portrait I focus on the hands and eyes. Although he is 90, he has a very strong, sharp eye – which is why he can find so many beautiful artworks. He knew which were good and which were not.”
1939 – 1992
Sketch of the River at Carcoar
Ink on paper
146.3 x 61.5 cm
Brett Whiteley began his artistic career as a commercial artist for an advertising company before taking up life drawing. He moved to London in the 1960s where his work was acquired but the Tate Gallery. He later moved to New York where he became friends with musicians Bob Dylan and Janis Joplin. He obtained celebrity status in Australia and internationally winning many scholarships and awards including the Wynne, Sulman and Archibald prizes several times including in 1978 where he won all three. In his later years he became increasing dependent on drugs and alcohol and died of an overdose in 1992. His painting style changed throughout his career from abstraction to figuration. In this work Sketch of the River at Carcoar we can see his elongated brush strokes depicting the weeping willows draping into the water.
1877 – 1968
Summer Afternoon, Ableside
Pencil and watercolour on paper
80.3 x 93.1 cm
Hans Heysen showed great talent as a student and was sponsored to study art in Italy and France by a group of Adelaide business people. On returning he was struck by the intensity of the light and shade in the Australian landscape and began to paint the giant gum trees that would epitomise his work. He used hues of blue to paint the shadows of the eucalyptus whose oil vapours when mixed with dust and sunlight reflected blue light.
Eugene von Guerard
1811 – 1901
On the Amerikan Creek Near Woolongong (sic)
Oil on academy board
36.0 x 41.0 cm
Eugene von Guerard travelled and painted in Australia from 1852 to 1882. He painted in the nineteenth century style of the German Romantic artists, depicting grand landscapes in minute detail often from drawings he made in the field. Many of his paintings were reproduced as prints and sold to the European market keen for images of this strange far away land. On Amerikan Creek near Woolongong shows the sun-setting reflecting over a small waterfall in the centre of the painting.