- John Latham 1921–2006
- Oil paint and commercial emulsion paint on hardboard
- Support: 1221 × 977 mm
frame: 1345 × 1107 × 67 mm
- Purchased 1991
Technique and condition
The following entry is based on an interview with the artist held on 24 February 1992.
The painting is executed on untempered hardboard in mixed paint media. There is an earlier abandoned painting on the reverse side of the hardboard. The front of the painting is executed on the smooth side of the hardboard.
The grey paint layer is a mixture of white and black commercial emulsion paint. A small amount of red was also added to create the warm tones in areas; 'the light patches would have been put in knowing I was going to paint over the top some sort of figure, but I didn't have any idea what kind.' The initial layers of paint are deliberately thin to reveal the colour of the hardboard in places. Areas of thinly scumbled black paint is a mixture of turpentine and oil, sprayed onto the surface through an electrically operated pump, and then wiped off. The pump would frequently break down, spitting out large blobs of paint which the artist later accepted as creating 'the sense of the unexpected' in his work. The painting was completed over a period of two days, 'one for the background, the emulsion would be dry before I painted it the next day', when the final drawing was applied.
The reverse side has a textured surface, visible through the paint layers, and represents 'an experiment using the rough side of hardboard', later abandoned by the artist as a failure. It is executed with oil paint and 'Wallart', a decorating powder manufactured at the time by Winsor & Newton. This was mixed with water, 'which would flow and set very beautifully', for an impasto effect.
The painting was lightly surface cleaned and the dry feathered edges of the hardboard secured. The artist confirmed that the scratches and dents in the surface were damages which could be left if they were not seen to interfere with the image.
The panel is fitted in it's original frame and both the front and reverse are glazed.