Considering the persistent dialogue with European and American abstract art that runs throughout the earlier series, it is no surprise that Tim Maguire would turn towards the direct appropriation of images in the 1990s. Of the two bodies of work in which he explored this new direction, the Flower paintings are the best known, and the fact that they were made alongside the Fontana paintings is often overlooked. Unlike most of the other artists that Maguire referenced in his early work, the Flower paintings did not engage in a dialogue with modern or contemporary art, but looked all the way back to 17th century Dutch and Flemish still life painting. Taken from reproductions in art history books or museum postcards, Maguire would enlarge a tiny detail of the original image to oversized dimensions at which point the original was no longer recognisable.
Stretched to the edges of abstraction, however, the paintings’ subjects remained legible as flowers. The motif would prove a fruitful one, and combined with the artist’s process-driven approach to painting, the flower paintings would evolve into one of the cornerstones of this oeuvre.
Other examples of Tim Maguire’s early flower paintings are found in the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, the Parliament House Collection in Canberra, the Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery in Hobart, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, and the Bendigo Art Gallery.,
“The early flower paintings are copies – not exact, obviously, but still copies – made according to a certain procedure. Taking a small detail of a reproduction of a still-life painting, usually Dutch or Flemish, I’d crop it – I can’t see anything then but the little bit I want, about two percent of the whole picture. The reproductions are often postcard size so the actual dimensions of the detail might be as small as one centimetre squared. This image is then sketched up for the finished work, magnified hundreds of times.”
in conversation with Jonathan Watkins, ‘What Is It ‘As It Really Is’, Tim Maguire, Sydney 2007, p. 72