Jairus, Hault, Murtaza, Acacia, Jessica, Peteseta, Brook and Aiyanna from Bishopdale Primary School brought their A-game to the Gallery last week when they came to see our show 'Gordon Walters: New Vision'.
After spending an hour in the exhibition space, studying Walters’ notes and workbooks and making their own sketches, they made these fantastic abstracts back at school, Walters-style.
Ka rawe, nice one! Come and see us again soon.
Gordon Walters: New Vision
Remembered especially for his Koru or Pītau series, Gordon Walters’s explorations into modernist abstract painting are invested with a distinctly South Pacific energy.
Gordon Walters is best-known for work that fused the influence of European modernist art and Māori and Pacific art forms, particularly the koru motif of painted kōwhaiwhai rafter designs. Walters’ influences from European modernism included the hard-edged geometric abstractions of Victor Vasarely and Auguste Herbin, seen while in Europe in 1950–51. Walters made his first optically charged ‘koru paintings’ in 1956, but didn’t show them until 1966 when he first exhibited this painting in Auckland.
Walters’ adaptation of the koru has been both admired and criticised by cultural commentators. Walters himself, when discussing the motif, increasingly focused on the fine mechanics of abstraction:
'What I’ve done to the form is push it more in the direction of geometry. So that I can have in my painting not only a positive/negative effect of black and white, but I can also have a working of vertical and horizontal, which is equally important.' (Op + Pop, 6 February – 19 June 2016)
New Zealand painter Gordon Walters started making his optically charged paintings in 1956, four years before the British painter Bridget Riley, op art’s principal exponent, began working with similar ideas. Walters’ explorations owed much to his study of Māori and Papua New Guinean art and their positive/ negative treatment of space, and to the abstract modernist painting he had seen while in Europe in 1950–51. Although best-known for his koru (fern bud motif ) paintings, his later, more simplified works remained equally visually challenging.
(Op + Pop, 6 February – 19 June 2016)
For the exhibition Painters As Printmakers (19 October 2007 - 20 January 2008) this work appeared with this label:
Gordon Walters began producing screenprints in 1969 with printmaker Mervyn Williams, whose skill and expertise proved ideal for Walters’ clean-cut, geometric abstract style, including his signature ‘koru’ works. Then is based on a gouache painting completed by the artist in 1956, which he later successfully reinterpreted into this screenprint.
Walters initially worked as a commercial artist and began painting full-time around 1965. In 1950 he travelled to Europe where he studied the work of Piet Mondrian in particular. His painting style emphasises precisely executed geometric forms, carefully ordered on the canvas. The flat abstract compositions found in Walters’ paintings were readily adapted to the screenprint medium. Walters and Williams developed a close working relationship throughout the 1970s and 1980s, producing a total of twelve screenprints together.
Many opinions have been offered on the remarkable ‘koru’ paintings made by Gordon Walters. Merging the geometry of modernist abstract painting with the unfurling fern motif from Maori art, these paintings are meditations on the theme of exchange – the way forms and ideas move from one place to another and change along the way. In the 1990s the koru works found themselves caught up in a debate about the rights and wrongs of cross-cultural borrowing. More recently, writers have argued that the powerfully visual qualities of these works have yet to be fully explored.
In 1947 Gordon Walters visited Theo Schoon in South Canterbury, where Schoon was recording Māori rock drawings. It was one of many occasions on which Walters drew inspiration from traditional Māori art. When he travelled to Europe in 1950, Walters realised that modern art had learned important lessons from the arts of the Pacific. Soon after, he began working with the koru, or fern bud, motif – a Māori decorative form used on rafter paintings, incised gourds and in tattooing. In the extraordinary series of abstract paintings that resulted, this simple form expresses a vast range of dynamic relationships.
These Year 6 students at Bishopdale Primary School have knocked it out of the park with their AMAZING glitter artworks from our new ART-TASTIC activity book.