Now known as a figurative painter, Booth’s reputation was first built on his black ‘doorway’ paintings (1970-74). These paintings deliberately confused distinctions of abstraction and figuration. While the works appeared non-objective, and the ‘shapes’ of colour and application of paint seemed to align with formal principles that remained current in Australian abstract painting at the time, the fact is that the works could be understood quite literally as doorways, leading to dramatic black voids that might represent the universe or a state of mind. As Booth later stated, ‘whether a picture is abstract of figurative is not the issue – it’s what the painting says about the human condition’.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra