Kim Pieters

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1959

The lover who does not forget sometimes dies of excess, exhaustion and tension of memory

  • 2001
  • Mixed media on board
  • Purchased 2002
  • Reproduced with permission
  • 1182 x 1217mm
  • 2002/246.a-k

The cracks, stains and losses that mark this repurposed board have become an important part of its enigmatic blue/ black surface. It belongs to the artist’s ongoing Memory series, started a few years after a fire destroyed her studio and works. Kim Pieters makes her paintings by suppressing conscious intention so that each decision or mark leads intuitively to the next. She likens this to improvised music, “the play of a particular presence inside time and space.” Here, she combines intense colour, indistinct lines and the patina of wear and tear with a title that affirms both the power of remembering and the need – sometimes –to forget.

(Perilous: Unheard Stories from the Collection, 6 August 2022- )

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • [Now, Then, Next: Time and the Contemporary, 15 June 2019 – 8 March 2020] (

    In a work concerned with the nature of memory, Kim Pieters uses the ‘automatic gesture’ of Surrealism – suppressing conscious thought and allowing marks to be made intuitively. The Surrealists thought that this approach might provide a direct line of sight to the subconscious of the artist and that, based on their own personal dreams, memories and desires, the viewer would also bring their own subconscious reading to the work. Pieters has painted on boards that have already been used for other purposes, adding another layer of past associations to her sparse, almost calligraphic images. But memory is a dangerous thing, her title suggests: going over past ground can be obsessive and all-consuming, and there is a psychic risk involved in not letting go of certain memories.

    (Now, Then, Next: Time and the Contemporary, 15 June 2019 – 8 March 2020)

  • Part of an ongoing ‘memory’ series by Kim Pieters, these indistinct lines, colours and forms suggest the elusiveness and mystery of remembering. At first glance, the panels seem almost bare, but this ‘emptiness’ allows us to begin to appreciate colour, form and the subtle, apparently random markings on the work’s surface. Pieters’ title suggests the risk involved in trying to hold onto our memories too tightly.

    Pieters has painted on board that has already been used for other purposes, so it brings its own cracks and stains, its own memories of other people, places and experiences. Her work draws on the idea of the automatic gesture developed by Surrealist artists in the 20th century and also the spatial and calligraphic features of traditional oriental painting.

    Pieters was born in Rotorua and studied photography at Wellington Polytechnic in 1979. She began painting in Melbourne a year later. Pieters was a finalist in the Visa Gold Art Award in 1996 and 1997. She exhibits regularly throughout New Zealand and also performs and records experimental improvisational music.