Gordon Walters

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1919, d.1995


  • 1954
  • gouache
  • Gift of the Gordon Walters Estate, 2016
  • 2016/066

“I like the rigorous quality of geometric abstract painting. I like the clarity of idea. I like the means used. I like the severity and the rigour of it. I don’t think this is a limitation. I think this is something which frees you to all kinds of investigation. It opens up all kinds of possibilities.” —Gordon Walters, 1975

Gordon Walters was a modernist painter who explored the potential of simple geometric elements, often playing with the relationship of figure to ground, or positive and negative space. This work pre dates his characteristic use of the koru motif and the critique of cultural appropriation that ensued. Unlike the hard-edged abstraction of his later works, Untitled is looser and more organic. The black and white forms use figure/ground ambiguity to enliven the image, and our eyes oscillate between seeing the wavy outlines as an object in front, or cavern behind. Around this time, Walters was introduced to the drawings of Rolfe Hattaway, a psychiatric patient that friend and fellow artist Theo Schoon met through his job at Oakley Hospital. Hattaway’s influence is evident here in the dynamic spontaneity of the improvised line and forms.

(Die Cuts and Derivations, 11 March – 2 July 2023)

Exhibition History