After Mondrian

I remember the furor over the cost of Australia’s new parliament house when it opened in 1988 — notably the extravagance of the 48 pillars and two staircases of Italian marble in the foyer.

Of course, the building is now an award-winning architectural icon, applauded for its sophistication and symbolic use of materials. Further, Italian-born Romaldo Giurgola — who co-created the winning design with Australian Richard Thorp in a 1980 competition — is now an Australian resident and lives within walking distance of his handiwork.

Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Yellow, Blue and Black

The sleek, symmetrical exterior of Parliament House is instantly recognisable — it towers, visible from all angles, over central Canberra, making it one of the city’s most photographed subjects. However, I prefer the foyer; grand yet minimal, it’s geometric shapes and simple colours remind me of a Piet Mondrian painting.

Geometry expressed truth for this modernist Dutch artist. Can the same be said for what goes in the home of Australian politics?

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