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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.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Howard Arkley 1, 1980, 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.

Robert Rooney (b. 1937), painter, conceptual artist and photographer, took many photographs of suburban streetscapes, as well as more than seventy pictures of Melbourne visual arts identities in the 1970s and 1980s.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2012
© Estate of Robert Rooney

Accession number: 2012.101

Currently not on display

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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 both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.