Vale: Robert Hunter


The Gallery acknowledges the recent passing of Robert Hunter (1947–2014), one of Australia’s pre-eminent abstract artists. Born in Melbourne, Hunter was strongly influenced by teachers Dale Hickey and James Doolin, and later the enigmatic black paintings by Ad Reinhardt, as well as the conceptual grids of Sol LeWitt. However, by the mid-1960s he had found a unique abstract language and set of parameters that would sustain his practice for nearly five decades. Hunter was the youngest artist included in the National Gallery of Victoria’s seminal exhibition ‘The Field’ in 1968. In 1971 he was included in the Second Indian Triennale, Lalit Kala Academy, New Delhi, and in 1974 in an international survey ‘Eight Contemporary Artists’ at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He maintained an international profile for many years, also showing in London and Dusseldorf.

Robert Hunter, Australia 1947-2014 / No. 4 untitled painting 1968 / Synthetic polymer paint on canvas / Purchased 1987 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © Robert Hunter, 1968/Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney 2014

Although Hunter’s works have ranged between painting and installation, his practice is remarkable in its consistency and uncompromising direction. Each work was generated from the previous and inspired the next, in recent years using standard house paints in shades of white on rectangular 4 feet by 8 feet sheets of plywood. The minute variations of tone and subtle shifts in geometry throughout the works are logical and empirical, but often provoke reactions and descriptions laden with emotion and even spirituality.