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"Max Gimblett: The Brush of All Things"
2004-06-19 until 2004-08-29
Auckland Art Gallery
Auckland, , NZ

Max Gimblett is one of New Zealand’s leading art figures. Exhibiting here since the seventies, but based in New York, he is one of our most internationally visible artists. The power and breadth of his painting is celebrated in The Brush of All Things. His first New Zealand public gallery survey exhibition, it opens in June at the New Gallery. Gimblett is important. "Max gives New Zealand a foothold in late modernist painting, because locally we don't have anyone who develops directly out of Abstract Expressionism", says curator Wystan Curnow.

Gimblett's work is rich and inventive. He is known for his great technical and stylistic range: the monochrome, geometric abstraction, the calligraphic and figurative expressionism all find a place in the work. He uses novel shaped supports: ovals, circles, and rings. However the quatrefoil is the shape he has really made his own. “The quatrefoil offers itself as an image, suggesting things it is not - a stained-glass rose-window, a lotus flower, a doorway to a walled garden - but is also a frame without a history", says Curnow.

Those who have only seen smaller samplings of Gimblett’s work will be surprised by its range and diversity. There sometimes appear to be many Gimbletts: one is a bold extroverted colourist while another pursues the subtle luminescent effects of gilded and lacquered surfaces. Gimblett conjures with a large bag of metaphysical and philosophical ideas. He draws freely on Buddhism, Christianity, classical mythology, and alchemy, Jung. His work can be understood in the context of “Western Buddhism”; a vein of inquiry that fuses aspects of Eastern and Western thought and takes in American artists as diverse as John Cage, Robert Motherwell, James Lee Byars and William Burroughs.

Curnow explains: "Max's work is emotional - it embodies a mighty spectrum of feeling and he doesn't shy from big themes. Violence, sacrifice and death; fear and awe; beauty, pleasure, peace and joy all play a role. His works engage both ends of the sublime, the negative (terror, fear and awe) and the positive (beauty and uplift)". The show plays up both poles, juxtaposing works expressing Gimblett's growing devotion to the beautiful with works exposing his dark side, which Jung called the The Shadow.

Great humour is also evident, particularly the drawings in which Gimblett summons up scary images of himself and his wife Barbara. The show features a specially commissioned 30 minute film condensing an intense three day painting session on the artist’s last visit to Auckland. Gimblett paints with large calligraphic brushes, floor mops and paint rollers on supports ranging from small hand-made papers to huge circular canvases. The film vividly captures the physical and intellectual aspects of Gimblett’s practice.

The Brush of all Things will fill the entire upstairs of the New Gallery. The exhibition will travel to City Gallery Wellington and be on display from 12 December 2004 to 6 March 2005.

Max Gimblett Pinwheel - for Len Lye 2000
gesso, polyurethane, red clay and water gilded Swiss gold on wood panel
Private collection

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