Max Gimblett

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1935

Christ in Majesty - after Fra Angelico

  • Purchased with the support of Christchurch City Council's Challenge Grant to the Christchurch Art Gallery Trust, 2011.
  • Gesso, red bole clay, Swiss gold leaf on wood panel
  • 1524 x 1524mm
  • 2011/221
  • 2010

At its simplest, a quatrefoil is constructed from four perfect, intersecting circles. Found in both Eastern and Western religious art, it has also been used to order and understand the physical world, most familiarly through the quartered segments of the clock and compass. Once described as a secular artist with a great respect for religious traditions, Max Gimblett has frequently opted for this shape over the more usual – but no less arbitrary – rectangular canvas. Here he combines it with gleaming gold leaf that has been finely scored to create a painting that seems to rush out towards us while simultaneously drawing us into its centre. Though his work is abstract, Gimblett’s title summons up the view of an enthroned Christ as depicted by the early Renaissance painter and friar Fra Angelico; surrounded by a shimmering aureole of golden light, radiating knowledge, power and glory.

(Unseen: The Changing Collection, 18 December 2015 – 19 June 2016)