Menzies Art Brands



Interior with Built-In Bar 1992 is a collaborative screenprint by Australian artists Howard Arkley and Juan Davila. Howard Arkley was born in the Melbourne suburb of Box Hill and Juan Davila, born in Chile, immigrated to Australia in 1974. The two met in the late 1970s when both were represented by Tolarno Galleries in Melbourne. They bonded over an ambivalence towards mainstream abstraction and sought to push each others artistic practices further. Arkley and Davila shared a passion for popularised imagery with most of their collaborations centred around the American home dcor book The Instant Decorator, by Frances Joslin Gold.1 It was a source that Arkley used in subsequent years.2 The theme of interior decoration persisted from their first collaboration, Blue Chip Instant Decorator: A Room, exhibited at Tolarno Galleries in 1991, to their last, Icon Interior 19942001, unfinished at the time of Arkleys death in 1999. This installation was eventually exhibited at Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art in 2001 as a tribute by Davila to his friend and collaborator.3

Each artists distinctive style can be readily seen in Interior with Built-in Bar of 1992. The colourful background of patterned surfaces and kitsch decorative objects is quintessential Arkely. Davila has subverted Arkleys scene and laid deliberate black lines over the top, imposing a sensible version over Arkleys chaotic one. In this way, the artists jointly question the values of suburban life in Melbourne.


1. Gold, F., The Instant Decorator, Clarkson N. Potter Inc, New York, 1976
2. Gregory, J., Golds Instant Decorator, Arkley Works,
3. Walton, A., Interior with Built-in Bar, The National Gallery of Australia,

Asta Cameron


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