Robert MacPherson: Exploring painterly possibilities


Robert MacPherson produced several groups of work titled Scale From the Tool in the late 1970s, mostly on canvas, in order to explore the painterly possibilities of standard house painting brushes.

Taking his title from the name of the chosen brush brand (South Australian Brush Company), MacPherson does something different here. He retains the proportions of the four-inch housepainters’ brush and reproduces it in two different ways: in the black/gold/red panel, and then again in the three single coloured panels. This simple approach enables him to produce a work of quiet elegance, like his larger-scale paintings, while exemplifying the reductive logic he would exploit in a series of important text works in the early 1980s.

Robert MacPherson, Australia 1937-2021 / SCALE FROM THE TOOL (SABCO) 1977 / Enamel, gold foil on wood, paintbrush / Collection: Robert MacPherson/ Courtesy: Yuill | Crowley, Sydney / © Estate of Robert MacPherson

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The Painter’s Reach‘ at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) explored the work of Robert MacPherson and included paintings, installations, ephemera and works on paper, showing how the artist’s reach begins with the particular and extends far beyond.