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West Wind


Accession ID:



West Wind






John Coburn




John Coburn’s painting West Wind (1961) is an early example of the characteristic style that he would develop as his career progressed. It is composed from flat, two-dimensional forms (both abstract organic and geometric) carefully placed on top of and in relation to each other, with attention given to overall balance and harmony. The geometrical shapes consist of rectangles of differing sizes, crossing and overlapping. One of the organic shapes is eye-like: a large white almond form has a large black centre, suggesting a pupil. Another has three prongs and is plant-like or perhaps a footprint. The colours, deep yellow-orange ochre in the background, black, browns, purples, olive green and white for the shapes, are rich and glowing. Sand is mixed into the oil paint, adding texture. At this time, Coburn was influenced by the American abstract expressionist artist, Robert Motherwell. His earlier influences include the French artists Matisse, Manessier and Mondrian as well as stained glass. His abstracted forms reflect a deeply spiritual and religious response to landscape. The subject of this painting is related to other pictures created at this time that reflect the artist’s experience of flying to Perth over the Western Desert region of Australia and looking down on the landscape forms. They include Western Summer (1961) and Equinox (1961). Like both these paintings, West Wind includes a black line looping across the picture plane, an uncharacteristic element. In her book, 'John Coburn: Paintings' Nadine Amadio quotes the painter as saying: ‘The lines are unusual for me. I had never used linear techniques or lines very much in my work. I’m always a shape painter …’. Indeed, it was on this basis that Coburn was excluded from an exhibition mounted by nine abstract Sydney painters in 1961 that was conceived as a response to the anti-abstract and pro-figurative Melbourne Antipodean Manifesto of 1959. The work is mounted in a wooden box frame painted grey.


Tamworth Regional Gallery


Provenance: Gift of Tamworth Chamber of Commerce & Tamworth Art and Craft Society. Signed and dated: L.R.C. - John Coburn, '61.

Associated Subjects