Channel: Northart kicks off 2020
Northart started its 2020 programme with a very fine exhibition of landscape painting. Currently on view in the gallery, Commissioned and Contemporary, Landscapes from the Kelliher Art Trust includes 19 works by well-known artists as well as those who are in the initial stages of establishing themselves on the Aotearoa / New Zealand art scene.
Over past years, landscape painting has been seen by many in the arts community as of lesser value and significance to other subjects and means of expression. However, as Christopher Johnstone, curator of the Kelliher collection and curator of this exhibition writes, “Commissioned and Contemporary demonstrates that serious landscape painting is not only alive and well in New Zealand but remains popular with artists and the public alike. At a time when our national art collection, in the opening year of its enlarged spaces, has eschewed the painted landscape, and our regional art museums are also loathe to find wall space for local examples, the Kelliher Art Trust continues to explore the single most important visual arts genre upon which New Zealand's tradition of painting was founded.”
Included in the selection is a work by Paul Olds (1922 – 1976), the most internationally experienced painter of his generation, and an award-winning work by Ian Scott (1945 – 2013), who became one of the country's most popular abstract painters, as well as recent acquisitions to the collection – contemporary landscape paintings purchased since 2007 as well as more recent commissions. This exhibition thus provides a snap-shot of New Zealand landscape painting practice over the past 60 or so years. Christopher Johnstone notes, “Artists pushing the boundaries of landscape range from Robert Ellis’s modernist “motorway” painting of 1968 to Imogen Taylor’s 2015 commission, in response to the landscape of Piha. The most recent commissioned painting, which the Trust is delighted to publicly display for the first time, is the view of the Lawrence River by the young Nelson painter Caroline Bellamy.”
Christopher Johnstone gives a public talk on the collection on Wednesday 12th February starting at 7pm. All welcome.
Northart celebrated Lunar New Year over Anniversary weekend with cultural performances and workshops; the accompanying exhibitions continue until 12th February. Tales of Light and Shadow showcases traditional Chinese shadow puppets, calligraphy and farm paintings. The latter originated in the 1950s, when the communist party encouraged rural communities as well as the army to engage in art. The idea that art was for ordinary people, rather than the bourgeois and academic professionals underpins Chinese farmers' paintings. Some communes picked up the new art, in the beginning for recreational purposes, or as a well-meant means of propaganda, or to express their dreams of a better life. A further exhibition by Chinese artist Wei Lan Wang (b.1962) is a fascinating collection of works which combine traditional ink painting techniques with more contemporary and feminist ideas.
Commissioned and Contemporary. Landscapes from the Kelliher Art Trust closes 4pm 19th February. Opening on Sunday 23rd at 5pm is the annual summer members’ exhibition which will include painting, photography, ceramics and object art by Northart’s community of artists.