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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Howard Arkley 1

1980 (printed 2012)
Robert Rooney

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 24.0 cm x 35.2 cm, image: 20.0 cm x 30.5 cm)

Howard Arkley (1951–1999) received several major grants that enabled him to travel and study. He came to see no sense in the Australian preoccupation with paintings of the bush, when such a small percentage of the population engages with the bush itself. Instead, over twenty years of experimentation, he developed a distinctively psychedelic and incandescent airbrush style, which he applied to immaculately-finished depictions of suburban homes and interiors. After representing Australia with such works at the 48th Venice Biennale in June 1999, he travelled to London to plan an album cover for Nick Cave, and then to Los Angeles for a sell-out show of his paintings. He married his long-time partner in Las Vegas before returning to Melbourne, where he died a few days later.

Purchased 2012
© Estate of Robert Rooney

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Robert Rooney (age 43 in 1980)

Howard Arkley (age 29 in 1980)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency