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Robert Hunter

Untitled no. 4  1985

synthetic polymer paint on board

122 × 244 × 5cm

Museum of Contemporary Art, gift of Loti Smorgon AO and Victor Smorgon AC, 1995

on display

About the Artwork

In the shift from gloss to matt paint and through subtle transformations of tone, Robert Hunter’s paintings encourage close observation. From the wall to paper, canvas, plywood and board, his paintings mark out horizontal, vertical and diagonal grids with delicate and muted shades of white.

In 1968 Tolarno Galleries in Melbourne hosted Hunter’s first commercial exhibition and in the same year his work was also included in The Field exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Signalling a new direction, this exhibition highlighted a group of artists interested in colour-field painting and minimalism. Featuring seriality, geometric forms, industrial materials and a complex appreciation of how objects function in space, Hunter’s paintings are at the vanguard of post-minimalist painting in Australia. His complex and subtle paintings promote an active contemplation that often transcends their methodical construction.

I want to make something alien – alien to myself. I want to produce something that is neutral – if it is neutral enough it just is. I suppose that these are questions about existence. If something is to exist simply then all symbols and associations have to be eliminated.

Robert Hunter, 1979

Robert Hunter

– About the artist

Born 1947, Melbourne. Lived and worked Melbourne. Died 2014, Melbourne.

Hunter’s first paintings were exhibited in 1967 in Perth and Melbourne. Later that year that he began to paint his signature white paintings, failing to find any emotional content or message in colour. For more than three decades Hunter maintained a singular line of enquiry in his practice, involving diagonal, vertical and horizontal geometric formations. While Hunter’s work has been described as a visual manifestation of the spiritual, the artist himself has stated that it is simply a case of ‘what you see is what you get’.

Hunter exhibited widely both within Australia and internationally. Key exhibitions include solo shows at the seminal, avant-garde Melbourne gallery Pinacotheca from 1970–96; Eight Contemporary Artists, Museum of Modern Art, New York (1974); The Field, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1976); Minimal Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1976); Meridian, MCA, Sydney (2002); Fieldwork: Australian Art 1968–2002, Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2003); and Less is More, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne (2012). Hunter’s work is held in all major public collections within Australia.

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