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Australian art

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Black oval



Elwyn Lynn


06 Nov 1917 - 22 Jan 1997


During the 1960s, Elywn Lynn pioneered fresh approaches to abstract painting in Sydney. He had travelled to Europe in 1957-8 and there developed a keen interest in contemporary Spanish art, particularly the work of Antoni Tàpies who utilised various materials in his painting practice in order to achieve varied surface effects. Through such influences Lynn, on returning to Sydney, began adding wood, rope and other fibres into his painting, and experimented with crusty textured surfaces by incorporating materials such as cement, glue and sand into his medium.

By the end of the 1960s, Lynn was recognised as Australia's pre-eminent textural painter. His work had used collaged and paint-layered surfaces to reference formations within the landscape, making statements concerning the ebb and flows of nature and managing, as Patrick McCaughey noted in 1969 "a heraldic conception of the natural world without incorporating narrative or figurative elements to bolster it up".

'Black oval', represents Lynn's shift to a simplified abstraction and his austere late 60s compositions that were based on a strong symmetrical - even Classical - sense of order. His work from this time no longer held direct analogy to the earth, but contained a sense of the eternal transcribed from the natural world.

'Black oval' produces a subtle sense of disquiet. Lynn's dense, blackened oval form creates the strong visual pull of a vortex, the motion of which is juxtaposed by blocks of collaged wood. They act as a barrier to oval's sense of the infinite without interrupting the impact of its circular flow. Lynn has applied thickened, sensual ripples of paint that is reminiscent of cooled lava and of nature's vital actions that underlie the earth's crust. Through the suggestions and visual contradictions of his materials, Lynn creates a powerful statement on the undulations of time against a sense of the eternal.




Media category

Mixed media painting

Materials used

synthetic polymer paint and wood assemblage on canvas


91.2 x 102.1 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated u.l. verso, black fibre-tipped pen "Elwyn Lynn/ 1969".


Gift of Sol and Diana Encel 2013


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Elwyn Lynn

Works in the collection