Peter TYNDALL, Detail/ A Person Looks At A Work of Art/ someone looks at something... Enlarge 1 /1


Melbourne, Victoria, Australia born 1951

Detail/ A Person Looks At A Work of Art/ someone looks at something... 1978-79 Materials & Technique: paintings, oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas; frame, wires, label

Primary Insc: No inscriptions
Dimensions: 278.0 h x 138.3 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1983
Accession No: NGA 83.1168

Much of Peter Tyndall’s prolific output is concerned with the process of looking at art. Tyndall employs a range of symbols to highlight the relationship between the viewer and a work of art within the broader context of culture and history.

A frame suspended by two strings is a recurring symbol in Tyndall’s work. It appears as the central panel in Detail/ a person looks at a work of art/ someone looks at something. For Tyndall, the frame signifies ‘something’ that we recognise and can name. The strings are like physical and metaphorical supports that connect the ‘thing’ to the world outside the frame. The outline of a figure refers to a viewer looking. The viewer in front of a suspended frame is echoed when we look at this work. Two strings are attached to the frame of the picture; we take on the role of the outlined viewer.

Symbols, representing the influences which affect our view of works of art, surround the central panel of the painting. A map of Australia, a dollar sign, a ladder, a cross, a skull and a question mark suggest that our process of looking at works of art is shaped by a number of cultural and historic forces. Combining these well-known graphics with his personal vocabulary of symbols, Tyndall creates a rich visual language which articulates the complex context within which we look at art.

David Sequiera 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