Rarely-seen art on display

Ian Scott’s Rita Angus in Taradale, 1987. PHOTO: JESS OBRIEN
Ian Scott’s Rita Angus in Taradale, 1987. PHOTO: JESS OBRIEN
Queenstowners have a rare chance to see a selection of one of New Zealand’s most prolific - and, at times, divisive - painters from next week.

‘Ian Scott: Painting New Zealand’, curated by Scott’s son, Chris Corson-Scott - a leading photographer - and Jaenine Parkinson, director of Wellington’s NZ Portrait Gallery, opens at Te Atamira on Tuesday.

It features previously unseen, or rarely-seen works Scott painted over the last three decades of his life, highlights the British-born artist’s interest in the story of NZ painting and painters, and expands the perception of his practice beyond his most widely-known and exhibited ‘Lattices’ series.

In the artworks on display, Scott brings together portraiture, landscape, text, reproduction and abstraction, in which portraits of mid-century Kiwi artists, or their artworks, bustle and vie for attention against NZ iconography and scenery.

Memorialising and questioning nationalist narratives, which dominated art-making since the 1930s, Scott’s paintings follow the impact of international perspectives welcomed by a new generation of artists, and linger on the bigger question of what it means to live and make art in NZ.

Painted soon after the death of his friend and mentor Colin McCahon in May 1987, and Scott’s first battle with cancer in 1988, the works in the Te Atamira exhibition wrangle with questions of meaning and legacy.

McCahon’s legacy and impact is contrasted with the tradition kept alive by Sir Henry Kelliher and the artists he patronised - such contrasts are emblematic of Scott’s fascination with the characters and issues embroiled in the fight over what qualified as ‘serious painting’ in this period, and most of all what could constitute a ‘NZ painting’.

The exhibition opens at 5.30pm on Tuesday and runs till June 3.