Coburn painted Africa II in 1968, when he was living in Canberra. He admits to being strongly influenced by the mainstream of art at that time, which was hard-edge colourfield painting.
However, he was trying to establish his own identity within this framework by bringing his own forms to it. Within the strong simple shapes of this work there is the inescapable Coburn spirit and style.
The work is part of the Christensen Fund Collection. While Coburn’s paintings are represented in every major and most regional galleries in Australia, and also in overseas galleries, and while his tapestries have won him world-wide acclaim, there are only one or two collections that can be said to represent his art in any depth. The Perth-based Christensen Fund, a philanthropic organisation which acquires and promotes significant art collections, has already acquired a substantial representative collection of Coburn’s work.
‘Africa II has very simple, direct shape with sun dominating. I feel that they are based to some degree on Primitive art shapes. They could be Aboriginal but I saw them in this case as African art and I called the painting Africa II. There were two fairly similar paintings. The other one, Africa I, is in the collection of the Sydney County Council.’