Art seen

<i>Cushioned Fall 1973</i>, Gretchen Albrecht. ("Colourbox", Dunedin Public Art Gallery)
<i>Cushioned Fall 1973</i>, Gretchen Albrecht. ("Colourbox", Dunedin Public Art Gallery)
Paul Cezanne once wrote, "To paint is to register one's sensations of colour."

These sensations are clearly celebrated in this exhibition, a small collection of 12 paintings by a group of well-known New Zealand artists whose work can only be described as a "feast of colour". These large, wild, vibrant pieces are not only fantastic, but test the material and expressive limits of paint.

The exhibition pays respect to the rise of neo-expressionism in New Zealand painting from the mid-to-late 20th century. This form of painting aimed to draw on the painter's inner spiritual world - their feelings, desires and emotions. To convey such insights, distortions of form and colour are required. The introduction of these ideas to New Zealand can be traced most readily to the painter Rudolf Gopas, who studied art in Lithuania and came to New Zealand in 1949. He freely distorted form, used heavy outline and employed intense areas of colour which bore little or no resemblance to natural appearances.

This exhibition includes work by artists such as Philip Trusttum, Pat Hanly, Alan Pearson, Jeffrey Harris and David Armitage as well as Gretchen Albrecht and the smallest and oldest in the room, Milan Mrkusich's Painting No 9. Their work is placed alongside the subsequent generation of contemporary painters that includes Julian Dashper and Judy Millar, who still obviously revel in this form of art-making and are just as captivating.

 

<i>Bread and Enamel Ware</i>, Neil Driver ("New Works", Artist's Room)
<i>Bread and Enamel Ware</i>, Neil Driver ("New Works", Artist's Room)
• Neil driver's collection of work continues his love for detail and of nature, a fundamental component for the inspiration of his paintings.

Driver's exhibition of 11 paintings is a continuation on the theme of still-life, landscapes and domestic interiors. Painted with perfection, one could imagine that the fruit, positioned alongside bowls and jugs, could be picked up and eaten: the bloom on the plums is clearly defined as is the graininess of the pears, evident in Pears and Blue Vein.

Isolated, echoing interiors with vistas of the sea provide the inspiration for other paintings in this exhibition. These images conjure up a vision of an attractive colonial house with wooden floors near the sea. By defining the views through a window or open doorway, the artist intends to intensify the image and invite the viewer to inquire and imagine what is beyond. The paintings are devoid of people but there are hints of their presence, such as bread left cut on the table or a door left open, as seen in Open Door to the Sea or Bread and Enamel Ware.

Although the central image is often rustic in nature, the subtle colour palette, the surface of the work, the play of light and the realistic textural details not only give Driver's work a timeless quality, but make this artist a realist painter in every respect.

 

<i>In the Groove</i>, Hope Gibbons ("Just Brights", Moray Gallery)
<i>In the Groove</i>, Hope Gibbons ("Just Brights", Moray Gallery)
• Another exhibition registering "sensations of colour" is Hope Gibbons' display of work, which is showing at Moray Gallery. Gibbons, an artist from Warkworth, north of Auckland, is a contemporary painter. Her work is both eye-catching and appealing with paintings in a variety of sizes and shapes.

Gibbons' work is all about the exploration of the painting process and she pushes the boundaries of traditional practice and techniques by exploiting the use of paint, rust, inks, leaf and varnish. Her work in this exhibition is predominantly bold, colourful and gestural, as seen in work such as In the Groove. However, two panel paintings done in earthy tones give a feeling of a reference back to the land, as seen in Rusted Patina Panel 1.

These earthy-toned works, along with her brighter works, are painted in layers that are fluid and instinctive. These aspects along with the natural reactions that occur between the mediums are what make Gibbons' work distinctive. The resulting alchemy found within some of the work make them not only evocative, but ethereal and seemingly organic. These elements of "chance in the making" become the idea behind Gibbons' work.

 

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