Saskia Leek

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1970

Clay Lakes #7

  • 2014
  • Oil on aluminium
  • Purchased 2017
  • 583 x 472mm
  • 2017/097

Saskia Leek’s small-scale paintings come to life slowly: built in layers, paused and restarted, gradually settling into resolution. Comfortably unheroic and awkward, they take a quietly whimsical approach. Ōtautahi Christchurch-born, Ōtepoti Dunedin-based Saskia sometimes takes cues from things overlooked, including discarded op-shop paintings, and also lightly echoes art history, as seen in the cubist- inspired modernist schemes of these works. Untitled, with its slightly kitschy 1950s bathroom palette, perhaps pays tribute to earlier, amateur painters and eras. Both works are too wayward to be high minded, and too sensitively formed to be naïve.

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

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • [We do this, 12 May 2018 - 26 May 2019] (

    Saskia Leek is concerned with the outmoded and the overlooked. She generally begins her paintings in response to other works – whether these are thrift shop masterpieces, ‘serious’ mid-century modernist works, or occasionally her own discarded earlier work. “I follow my nose after that, and just go back and forth between the source material and what the work becomes as I make decisions and play around with things.” Her paintings are domestic in scale and require the intimate regard of the viewer. “I like the economy of scale”, she says. “Because I work on them over a long period of time, I feel that they’re big.” “I’m interested in the idea that the original motive or intention for a work is quite different from the outcome. What happens between is really important. All the doubts and wrong turns and decisions that are made. I hope there’s some sense of vulnerability. I start with the idea that these paintings, that have been pretty much discarded – well, anything can be made into something. I never throw away my old paintings. I just keep working them until they come to a point of stillness.”

    (We do this, 12 May 2018 - 26 May 2019)