Howard Arkley’s paintings of Melbourne’s homes, streets and urban environment have been described as iconic and comparable with the importance to Australian culture as the work of Fred Williams and Emily Kngwarreye. Just as those artists altered perceptions of the Australian landscape, Arkley transformed the experience of suburban Australian.
Arkley attended the Prahran College of Education, (1969-72) and Melbourne State College in 1973. During this period he exhibited geometric abstract paintings and later maintained that this aesthetic remained vital to his practice; "basically I'm a formalist artist — I actually believe in painting". His exuberant, hallucinogenic urban landscapes drew from a range of sources; American Pop Art, spray painting/graffiti art, stencils, real estate brochures and interior design magazines.
In 1991 a major retrospective was held at Monash University Gallery, Melbourne, and in 1999 he represented Australia at the Venice Biennale. Arkley’s work has been included in numerous group shows, including Australian Perspecta 1981 and Federation: Australian Art and Society 1901-2000. Arkley’s work is held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.