Friday, October 21, 2011

Cornucopia Exhibition now up

No 8

The Exhibition is now up at Rona Gallery, you can see it here

 Now I was asked to provide some notes for Rona Gallery about me as an artist and the exhibition -so it wont hurt to post them here as well.  Cheers, I hope you enjoy the work.

Artist notes:

“Cornucopia” was my response to the question posed by Richard Ponder; “What we going to call the show?”

It was early August 2011.  Almost 10 years to the day since I had closed the door on the Rimu St Gallery in Eastbourne.  A 14 month adventure as a gallery owner/painter with a full time job in engineering and a wife and daughter, something had to give, gallery owner it was.  Across the street from the Rimu St Gallery was the original location of Richard Ponder’s Rona Gallery, and that is how I came to meet Richard. 

Striking the balance between engineering and painting as a source of income has been a constant theme and the addition of a third income stream from the promotion and sale of others people’s art seemed like a good idea at the time.  Well that was then and this is now….  In hindsight the whole gallery escapade was driven by  romantic view of its Eastbourne location rather than cold, hard commercialism and so it gradually devolved into a glorified studio…

The last painting I painted in the Rimu St Gallery forms the basis of “Cornucopia”.  The painting is titled “No. 8” and it is the closest thing to a New Zealand landscape I have painted, and marked a big change in how I painted. 


I began exhibiting my paintings in 1988 in Houston, Texas at the First Houston Fine Art Show.  It was the equivalent to the NZ Affordable Art Show.  It was at this show that I was invited to exhibit at the fledgling Fountainhead Gallery in Houston, TX.  After several exhibitions at the Fountainhead I moved on to Robinson Galleries.  Thomas Robinson operated out of a white cube on Colquit St, in legendary gallery district.  In those days there were 12 galleries within a 50m radius.

Houston was a wonderful place to forge a career in art.  Reputedly the 3rd largest fine art market in the USA behind NY and LA, but more importantly a city with the A to Z of 20th century art in publically accessible art collections: the Menil, the Rothko Chapel, two-story high Miro sculptures striding across city plazas to Dubuffet’s reaching for the sky on Main St.

Houston is a city that celebrates art and it was a wonderful place to work as an artist.  In the 1990’s Thomas Robinson was a long established art dealer in Texas.  Having learned his trade in New York he had returned to his native Texas to establish himself as one fo the leading characters in the Houston Art ‘bidness’, having helped launch the careers of many successful American artists most of whom are still working today.  Tom was not afraid of exhibiting contentious material, and in fact seemed to revel in it.  Artists such as James Johnson and Ron English among others drew the wrath of some segments of society for the subject of their art.  So it was with a great sense of achievement and gratitude that I began to exhibit my work under the Robinson banner. 

I exhibited with Tom from 1992 to 1996 when I returned to my adopted homeland; New Zealand.  At this point I was still shipping paintings back to the USA, but this arrangement came to a grinding halt with the premature death of Tom in 1998.


So what is this show about?  The last painting I painted before closing the door on the Rimu St Gallery is the departure point for the show.  It represents a resolution of style that I have developed over the last 10 years.  To further illustrate this development, I have included examples of my work still in my possession from various periods from 2001 on, culminating in my six most recent paintings from 2011.

The paintings from the earlier part of the decade start out big and dark.  The works are landscapes, NZ landscapes, fragments of weatherboard and corrugated iron, the illusion of ridge lines.  These landscapes are not traditional renditions of a single scene however, but more a series of glimpses and impressions layered over and scraped back.  

The progression goes from large works to small, from a panoramic view to the microscopic.  No. 8 is a pastiche of fragments; it could almost be described as a painted collage.  Pieces of landscapes fading in and out forcing the eye to dance across the canvas.  There are details of weatherboard, corrugated iron, hilly horizons against the skyline, pieces of sky, clouds, bodies of water all of this rendered against the pervasive black that is NZ.

The paintings that followed were continued in the same vein, dark and brooding like a night in the bush without moonlight.  The NZ landscape occasionally turned into seascapes, blue replacing the black but still fragmented.  

Paul Tait