Howard Arkley

Howard Arkley

Last updated September 1, 2012


Born 1951 - died 1999 Howard Arkley’s principal theme was unique and instantly recognizable – a celebration of hometown Melbourne suburbia, particularly its post-war, triple-fronted, brick veneer homes. He perfected the art of making the commonplace look remarkable, yet these suburban pictures never featured a single, living soul.

His big, vibrant paintings, almost a psychedelic style, were justifiably compared to the likes of Warhol, Hockney and Lichtenstein. Arkley had worked with a variety of mediums across the years, achieving moderate success but his career took off with his use of the airbrush. Across his 30-year career, Arkley was dedicated, rigorous, and, if anything, too critical of his own work. His early yearning for success, combined with personal problems, saw him seek solace in drugs.

His career peaked in 1999 when he represented Australia at the 48th Venice Biennale, travelled to London to plan an album cover for rock singer Nick Cave, and then flew to Los Angeles for a sell-out show of his paintings. He married his long-time love in Las Vegas, and returned home triumphant, to be at last celebrated by the art world in his own country. Two weeks later, he was dead, tragically dying of a drug overdose, leaving so many to mourn a great talent unfulfilled. He was forty-eight.

Suburban Domestic, Aerosol paint on paper

Kedumba Drawing Award - 1997 Acquisitions Judge John Wolseley

Howard Arkley - Suburban Domestic

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