(Australia 24 Sep 1937 – )
20.1 x 30.0 cm image/sheet
Robert Rooney was born and educated in Melbourne, and he attended Swinburne College of Technology 1954-57. Rooney’s career has encompassed painting, collage, prints, music, photography, and commercial art and design. He has exhibited throughout Australia and been included in a number of significant exhibitions including the Biennales of Sydney 1986, 1990 and ‘Cubism and Australian art’, Heide Museum of Modern Art 2009.
Rooney’s 75 portraits of his colleagues and fellow artists were produced between 1978 and 1984. They followed on from his conceptual photo works of the 1970s. Whereas those earlier Instamatic works were presented in grid patterns of order and repetition and showed little concern for technical standards, Rooney wanted his portraits to be as perfect as he could manage. He formulated certain rules, such as using only available light and not cropping the images. Rooney often made portraits on the spur of the moment, however posing was also done in collaboration with the subject. Each portrait had elements pertaining to the subject’s character and work, though these often occurred through chance rather than design.
The four portraits in the Art Gallery of New South Wales collection reflect a particular period in Australian art, when the now established artists were beginning their careers. They depict members of the contemporary art scene of the late 1970s to mid 1980s associated with ‘Art + Text’, an Australian art magazine published from 1981-2000.
Philip Brophy formed the experimental group Tsk Tsk Tsk in 1977. The group produced experimental music, films, videos, and live theatrical performances. Brophy involved his friends in the group, including partner Maria Kozic on synthesizer. Kozic was also producing her own multimedia work. In this photograph, Kozic and Brophy are standing in a suburban backyard complete with Hills Hoist. This is reflective of Tsk Tsk Tsk’s suburban beginnings, based as it was at Clifton Hill's Community Music Centre. After the group’s dissolution in the early 1980s, Brophy made several experimental films and curated numerous programs for the Melbourne international film festival as well as exhibitions such as ‘Tezuka: the marvel of manga’ for the National Gallery of Victoria. Kozic moved to New York where she continued her artistic career. Her work has been exhibited widely throughout Australia and overseas and been collected by many museums including the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
Ewen McDonald and Judy Annear (Editors), What is this thing called photography? Australian photography 1975-1985, Annandale, 2000, 16 (illus.).
What's in a face? aspects of portrait photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 24 Sep 2011–05 Feb 2012