Formal Hit
Formal Hit
Circa 1979
Screen print
46 x 37 centimeters
Collection of The National Gallery of Australia

Formal Hit was a statement reflecting a phase of anti-intellectualism I was playing around with which coincided with the punk zeitgeist of the time. The man with the serious glasses and the woman in the red dress listen earnestly to a man who, because he is carrying an airline bag, has arrived at a party after a stint of international travel.

The title is ambiguously ironic, the 'hit' refers to the effect of a drug which in this case is about the intellectual hit of ideas, specifically concerning art. We could conclude that the airline bag man is the big thinker because his hair neatly morphs into the abstract painting on the wall behind him. The 'formal' is a reference to formalism, a concept that was fashionable at the time which posited that the core of modernist abstraction is form stripped of any figurative associations. It was an obscure private joke and I didn't expect many people would have understood it, and they didn't.

Formal Hit was also a technical experiment in the minimalisation of colours. It uses just the three of the four pigments that commercial printers use in colour separations; yellow, cyan and magenta. The observer's eye optically mixes them to form the wider colour palette.

Backgound of the screen prints 1977-1981