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England, United Kingdom born 1951

  • Movements: Australia from 1985

Biting the air #8 2004

  • triptych
drawings, watercolour, Technique: drawing in black ink, watercolour, gouache and crayon
Primary Insc: Not signed or dated on recto. nscribed on left sheet verso upper centre in black pencil, 'BTA #8/L (in circle)/1 J 04'. Inscribed on centre sheet verso upper right in black pencil, 'BTA #8/C (in circle)/1 J 04'. Inscribed on right sheet verso centre in black pencil, 'BTA #8/ R(in circle)/1 J 04'.
image (each) 18.4 h x 27.2 w cm
sheet (each) 18.4 h x 27.2 w cm
overall 18.4 h x 82.0 w cm
Purchased 2005
Accession No: NGA 2005.66.A-C
© Ian Friend


  • Ian Friend’s Biting the air #8, influenced by the poetry of English poet JH Prynne is ‘concerned with gravity, balance and a sense of simultaneous interiority/exteriority’. Friend’s belief that Prynne’s work extended ‘the poetic’ to demonstrate how different types of language intersect, overlap and enmesh is recreated in the sensuous surface texture of his Biting the air series. In stark contrast to the organic background there are several white ovals, intersecting at the joins or edges of each sheet of the triptych. These pure elliptical forms signify points of clarity and suggest that this moment will continue outside the boundary of our visual experience.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010