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John Young

Light and the Density of Light, 1992


oil on cotton duck

183.00 x 168.00

signed, titled and dated ‘Light, and the Density of Light / John Young / Autumn 1990 / assisted by David Thomas’ on reverse


IBM Collection Australia, TILL 2019


John Young - Polychrome Paintings, City Gallery, Melbourne, 1990;
Reinventing the Grid, Robert Lindsay Gallery, Melbourne, 1994, curated by Rachel Kent.

Literature & references:

Rex Butler, Lost in the Mix: The General and the Particular in the Art of John Young, Art and Australia, Vol 30, No. 3, Autumn 1993, illus. front cover & text pp 364 – 369:
Referring to the preceding Polychrome series based on Richter’s Colour Chart series Butler writes:
“The exercise Young sets himself in these polychromes – as in much of his work – is one of how to invest the emptiness and expectation of these images with a unified mood, how to make them ‘live’ again…  [He] has changed the orientation of Richter’s Colour Charts from horizontal to vertical… [and] he has transformed Richter’s anonymous, industrial colours, which were organised randomly in the original, into subtle runs and counterpoints of tertiary colours that are scattered throughout the series (the paintings were made with a number of assistants and, in his artist’s statement for their first exhibition, Young speaks of the way each artist filled in his allotted rectangles at once independently and in unison with others.)”;

Robert Rooney, How Line of Thought Converge on the Grid, The Weekend Review, Sydney Morning Herald, 22 October, 1994;

Carolyn Barnes and William Wright, John Young, Craftsman House Thames & Hudson, 2005, cat no 105, p 246 and illus. p 235, together with Light and the Density of Light II cat. No. 106, also illus. p. 235.


These two works formed the final phase of the series of the larger Polychromes dating from 1989-91, and form a link with other works of 1990-91 which combined the polychrome rectangles with representational sections (predominantly nudes and flowers, see plates 31 - 35).  However with the two Light works the strong black grid invites a figure/ground reading which gives a perspectival effect: the positive/negative shift allows the viewer to see the colour rectangles as if through a dark portcullis or alternatively as resting on a black blanket. 
Our thanks to the artist for his assistance in cataloguing this work.

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Since its establishment in 1984, the Charles Nodrum Gallery’s exhibition program embraces a diversity of media and styles - from painting, sculpture & works on paper to graphics and photography; from figurative, geometric, gestural, surrealist & social comment to installation & conceptually based work.