Robert MacPherson: Returning to colour


In the Mayfair (Peerless) series MacPherson returns to colour after thinking it inessential, and generally maintaining a monochromatic palette for his paintings of the 1970s. Taking their name from MacPherson’s drycleaner, the Peerless works use a drycleaner’s receipt with its sequence of named colours as a plan for making suites of single-colour paintings.

In this work however MacPherson uses short-sleeved white shirts, each with an ink-stained pocket. He revisits his own history, recalling the clerical workers he first worked with as an adolescent, when breast pockets held fountain pens, and later, when as a middle manager with pens in his pocket, he supervised a group of cleaners at the Brisbane City Council.  His history as a painter is recalled too, alluding to Color Field painting in the stain paintings of Morris Louis, as well as MacPherson’s own longstanding idea that tools can generate their own inherent images.

Robert MacPherson, Australia 1937-2021 / MAYFAIR: PEERLESS 2002–2007 / 15 men’s shirts, ink, hangers, offset print (framed) / 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.

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