Tony Fomison

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1939, d.1990

Jester the Arbitrator

  • Purchased, 1978
  • Oil on canvas on plywood
  • 555 x 679mm
  • 78/33
  • 1977

Tony Fomison said of these classic figures, “Jesters, they had the role of soothsayer, and at their best, truth-tellers as well”.

One of New Zealand’s most original artists, Fomison’s brooding, dark canvases present a romantic gothic vision. Sympathetic to human frailty and himself subject to depression, he often used images of clowns and jesters, as well as religious subjects, in a distinctive and personal way as symbols of the human condition.

Fomison was born in Christchurch and studied at the University of Canterbury. He then went to England and Europe on an Arts Advisory Board grant. In 1973 he moved to Auckland. His lifelong interest in Maori and Polynesian cultures is often reflected in his work.