Abstract Australian Landscape
27.5 x 33cm
Signed (top left) and dated ‘Kenneth Rowntree ’85’
Provenance: Anderson & Garland Studio sale of Kenneth Rowntree lot 263 Tuesday 8 September 2009
Rowntree visited Australia in 1984/85. In this painting he picks up various vignettes from the Australian landscape in six separate blocks. Two relate to the sky, with almost-unbroken blue skies stretching from horizon to horizon, three relate to desert areas, with a whole array of different textures, and one is a luscious green. In one of the desert scenes he has picked out two road signs, in typical Rowntree fashion, reducing them to their simplest form. In her essay Kenneth Rowntree: A Strange Simplicity (published in Kenneth Rowntree A Centenary Exhibition Published by Moore-Gwyn Fine Art and Liss Llewellyn Fine Art, on behalf of the artist’s estate, on the occasion of the centenary of Kenneth Rowntree’s birth) Alexandra Harris makes reference to this painting noting:
Later, in 1986, just when the young David Hockney was collaging the signs and road-markings of Route 138 in Pearblossom Highway, Rowntree was in Australia painting yellow diamond-shaped road-signs as bright icons in open country. Wherever he went, Rowntree captured both the unfamiliarity of places and their relationship to things he knew. Heading into the Australian outback, he painted a road-sign as he would paint a rail signal at Clare in Suffolk or nautical markers at Swansea.
Hockney’s 1986 Pearblossom Highway may be seen here in the Getty and it is worth noting that Rowntree was in fact painting the yellow sign in 1985, so a year before Hockney.