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