Mike Brown

Mind Structure in Orange, 1979-80

Deutscher and Hackett

National Australia Bank Collection: Highlights of Australian Art

22 February 2022

Lot 53

Here's a significant work from another Australian artist who appears to be temporarily overlooked. Along with Colin Lanceley and Ross Crothall, Mike Brown was a founding member of the Sydney based group known as the Annandale Imitation Realists. Taking a position against the cultural constraints of the early sixties, the Imitation Realists pushed boundaries for taste and decorum amongst the Sydney art milieu. They used a wide range of recycled materials and inner city detritus to create exuberant and typically satirical works that jolted and assaulted the sensory appetite for neutral landscapes and portraiture. Their work was variously described as noisy, exuberant and irreverent. The rationale and creative aesthetic for their early and short lived collaborations were complex and would resonate throughout each of their careers. Like many artists, Mike Brown struggled to earn a decent living through art and some of his works embodied a bitterness to this effect. Some noteable quotes capture his subversive energy: “What-the-hell are you people doing in an art-gallery anyway?? If you're looking for art, you won't find it here. You might as well hope to find religion in a church, health in a pill bottle, youth in a jar of cosmetics, or true-love in a brothel” Mike Brown 1972.

The painting to be auctioned is an exploration of fragmentation and resolution. The late seventies was an arrival period for microprocessor technology, soon to expand and materially alter most areas of life. No real comment on the pros or cons at this stage, just the beginnings of something fast and furious. Indeed Brown's fractal elements are fluid and potentially liberating compared to geometric abstractionists who later referred to the technologised surveillance and cells which seem too close now to being realised. Auction estimate (AU $3000-$5000).

Price realised at auction US $5,523

Alan Jones    Redfern

Artworks from the Estate of Frank Watters
15 February 2022