Mayfair: Breakfast, Dinner and Tea for old R.R. 2003
Dulux weathershield acrylic on masonite whitecoat
91.5 x 121.5 cm (each) (4 panels)
Each panel signed and inscribed on reverse Mayfair: Breakfat Dinner + Tea For Old RR / Robert Macpherson / Jan 2003
Provenance: Corporate collection, Melbourne.
Robert MacPherson is one of Australia's most respected contemporary artists, with a career spanning well over 30 years and extensive representation in major exhibitions and collections; a comprehensive survey was mounted by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, in 2001. His work expresses a literate international-modernist sensibility in its references to Greenbergian concern for 'pure' painting, to the reductive forms of Russian Constructivism and American Minimalism, to the material improvisations of Arte Povera, to the serial repetitions of conceptual art, to the semiotic intensity of concrete poetry. At the same time it is resolutely local and vernacular, reflecting the artist's rural Queensland origins. His immediate themes and subjects include drovers and stockmen, threatened frog species, fishing and used cars, while his materials range from housepaint and masonite to beehives, birdhouses and blankets. This combination or collision of contrary aesthetics produces work which is simultaneously elegant and gauche, austere and funny, hermetic and democratic. Since the 1990s Macpherson has produced a broken series known as the Mayfair paintings, named in honour of his favourite Brisbane sandwich bar: 'I. always buy my lunch at the Mayfair Bar I always have a salmon on brown bread sandwich 2 boiled eggs and a cup of black coffee no sugar.'1 Like other sequences, the Mayfair works are inspired by hand-painted roadside signage, in this particular case signs relating to food. Some of these works are text-based ('sweet and tasty', 'firm and ripe', 'fresh and fruity'); others, such as the present work, are based on amateur advertising images of fruit and vegetables. The four red pears allude to painting's history and its philosophical and theoretical foundations. Their severe palette of red, white and black recalls Kasimir Malevich and the Soviet Suprematists, while the anti-naturalistic colour also raises questions of the semiological limits of perception and representation. Their sequential arrangement follows Conceptualism's indexical obsession, while also drawing attention to the fundamental relationship of flat picture to flat wall. The broad, bold curvature of the forms has something of Robert Motherwell's Abstract Expressionism. Even the pear shape itself is not without cultural meaning: there are faint echoes of back view female nudes, of Honoré Daumier's caricatures of King Louis Philippe, of George Baldessin's eroticised fruit. But as always with MacPherson's work, the vernacular resonances are equally strong: there is something rather Father Christmassy or garden-gnomey in the cheerful red sphere-cone caps, even a vague hint of hastily scrawled obscene graffiti. In its seriously dumb complicated simplicity, Mayfair: breakfast, dinner and tea for old R.R. is an impressive example of MacPherson's strangely-coded modern beauty. 1. Text on work on paper from Mayfair series, quoted in Art and Australia (ed.), Current: contemporary art from Australia and New Zealand, Sydney: Dott Publishing, 2008, p. 192
Refer Sotheby’s 23/11/2009