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Arbitrary trisection with figtrees and later enthusiastic additions

circa 1964-circa 1965


Mike Brown


08 May 1938 – 09 Apr 1997

  • Details

    circa 1964-circa 1965
    Media category
    Materials used
    synthetic polymer paint on hardboard
    122.0 x 122.0 cm board
    Signature & date

    Signed and dated l.r. corner, green synthetic polymer paint ".../ Mike Brown/ 1964-5".

    Gift of Noel Hutchison in memory of Katherine Hutchison 2015
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Mike Brown Estate

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Mike Brown

    Works in the collection


  • About

    'Arbitrary trisection with figtrees and later enthusiastic additions' 1964-65 was shown at Mike Brown's solo exhibition 'Paintin' a-go-go!' at Gallery A in Sydney in 1965. It was infamously shut down by Detective Frank 'Bumper' Farrell and members of the Vice Squad over public complaints of indecency. Brown had fearlessly set out to shock, amuse and offend the art establishment and supposed 'art lovers', in works that were intentionally obscene and absurd. To this end, Brown drew attention to what he perceived to be a commercialised and conservative art world in Sydney during the 1960s.

    Brown's colourful and outrageous marriage of text and imagery disregarded aesthetic conventions, his psychedelic pop art style defying the po-faced and dominant abstraction of the time. Although tame compared to the content of the other paintings displayed, 'Arbitrary' was later used in court as evidence during Brown's trial under the Obscene and Indecent Publications Act of 1901. Brown was acquitted, however, the censorship and prosecution signalled a low point in Australian art, which prompted the artist to leave the city.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 2 exhibitions

    • Paintin' a-go-go!, Gallery A (Sydney), Paddington, 12 Nov 1965–24 Nov 1965

    • Pop to popism, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 01 Nov 2014–01 Mar 2015

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication

    • Wayne Tunnicliffe, Pop to popism, "'The easel did not go pop: it went bang!'", pg. 137-186, Sydney, 2014, 155 (colour illus.), 301, 323.

Other works by Mike Brown

See all 8 works