Frankston, Victoria, Australia born 1948

The call 1998-99 Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on canvas Support: canvas

Dimensions: 152.0 h x 183.0 w cm framed (overall) 158.3 h x 188.5 w x 6.5 d cm
Acknowledgement: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Purchased 2000
Accession No: NGA 2000.450
Image rights: Image reproduced courtesy the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne
  • Is this heavy-set man making or receiving a call? Is he giving or taking orders? His work place seems empty and the view is depressing, so do we feel sympathy?

    As a young art student I half believed that, in offices and government buildings around the world, implacable bureaucrats sat and directed our lives. Of course this is only partly true and came from my youthful reading of Kafka, Orwell and others. Images from those formative years persist and occasionally surface.

    When planning and painting a work like this, I am preoccupied with technical details like colour, composition and drawing. Only later do I sometimes speculate about the meaning, which was usually unconscious when I had the idea for the picture. The reasons for choosing one subject over another are often rooted in childhood. I want to understand or relive an experience, then reconstruct it, both for myself and to communicate to others.

    To return to the man in the office – things are not all that bleak, for there is some weak sunshine coming through the window and life goes on outside.

    Rick Amor, 2002

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
    From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002