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Howard Arkley’s principal theme is unique and instantly recognizable – a celebration of hometown
He perfected the art of making the commonplace look remarkable, such as the stark lines of freeways, and taking us inside the childhood homes of those, like him, who grew up in the 50s.
His big, vibrant paintings, meticulously finished with an incandescent, almost 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 the airbrush, which he long experimented with and perfected, giving his paintings an almost surreal feel. The suburban pictures never feature a single, living soul, yet the garish colours suggest that this is not a bad thing; it’s just the way it is.
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, although he was a much-loved larrikin, liked by his peers.
It all peaked in 1999 when he represented
Two weeks later, he was dead, tragically dying of a drug overdose, leaving family, friends, critics and admirers to mourn a great talent unfulfilled.
Howard Arkley was 48.