Exhibition

Sydow: Tomorrow Never Knows

25 March – 23 July 2017

1960s London set the scene for Carl Sydow’s playful, op-inspired sculptures.

Carl Sydow was one of a bright new generation of New Zealand sculptors who came to the fore during the 1960s and 70s, alongside John Panting, Stephen Furlonger and Leon Narbey. These artists rejected traditional sculptural materials and processes, choosing instead plastics, fibreglass and welded steel. Sydow’s works include sheets of zinc suspended on springs that shimmer when they move, as well as colourful garden hoses threaded through a sheet of Perspex.

Tragically, Sydow’s life was cut short in 1975 aged thirty-five. At the time, his career was in full flight and he was viewed by many as one of New Zealand’s leading sculptors. Tomorrow Never Knows focuses on the playful, up-tempo works produced in the last five years of the artist’s life and includes several sculptures from the Gallery’s collection alongside suites of his op-inspired drawings.

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Julian Dashper's Untitled 1996

Julian Dashper's Untitled 1996

Sound artist Paul Sutherland chooses his favourite work from the Gallery’s collection.

 

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Gordon Walters Black on white
Gordon Walters is best-known for work that fused the influence of European modernist art and Māori and Pacific art forms, particularly the koru motif of painted kōwhaiwhai rafter designs. Walters’ influences from European modernism included the hard-edged geometric abstractions of Victor Vasarely and Auguste Herbin, seen while in Europe in 1950–51. Walters made his first optically charged ‘koru paintings’ in 1956, but didn’t show them until 1966 when he first exhibited this painting in Auckland. Walters’ adaptation of the koru has been both admired and criticised by cultural commentators. Walters himself, when discussing the motif, increasingly focused on the fine mechanics of abstraction: 'What I’ve done to the form is push it more in the direction of geometry. So that I can have in my painting not only a positive/negative effect of black and white, but I can also have a working of vertical and horizontal, which is equally important.' (Op + Pop, 6 February – 19 June 2016)
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The pleasure of making: objects taking centre stage in the space of the art gallery

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Notes
To the memory of Julian Dashper

To the memory of Julian Dashper

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Untitled 1956 by Gordon Walters

Untitled 1956 by Gordon Walters

This article first appeared as 'Balancing act' in The Press on 17 August 2012.

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New Zealand in the Biennale of Sydney and the Biennale of Sydney in New Zealand

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Collection
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Don Driver Energy Triad
####[Op + Pop 6 February – 19 June 2016](http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/exhibitions/op-pop) The New Plymouth-based Don Driver worked from the mid-1970s until the 1990s on sculptural assemblages made from found materials. Echoing the work of American pop artist Robert Rauschenberg, whose work Driver had experienced while visiting New York in 1965, Energy Triad makes assertive use of familiar, locally sourced items, placing pioneering farming tools alongside advertising and road signage, all with a meticulous eye to formal balance and arrangement.
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Untitled
Julian Dashper Untitled
####[Op + Pop 6 February – 19 June 2016](http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/exhibitions/op-pop) The repurposed drumskin became a signature motif for Auckland-based Julian Dashper, whose conceptual art practice saw him develop an international exhibiting profile in the United States, Australia and Europe, before his untimely death in 2009. Resonating with the American pop artist Jasper Johns’ 1950s target paintings, Dashper’s drumskin canvases were also made to honour a band of New Zealand’s pioneering modernists. In 1992 The Big Bang Theory saw him assembling full drumkits emblazoned with his heroes’ names: The Anguses, The Hoteres, The Colin McCahons, The Woollastons and The Drivers.
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June Pause
Simon Morris June Pause
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Collection
Elongated Triangles 4
Bridget Riley Elongated Triangles 4
####[Op + Pop 6 February – 19 June 2016](http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/exhibitions/op-pop) British artist Bridget Riley is a leading name in the op art movement. Her work came to international attention in 1965 when included in an exhibition called The Responsive Eye at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, alongside artists including Victor Vasarely and Josef Albers. Riley’s earliest op art paintings in black and white had a major impact on 1960s fashion, advertising and design. She increasingly used colour in her work from 1967 onwards, when she also began using simplified forms, often vertical straight or wavy lines, and colour variation and contrast that produced a sense of movement.
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Slumper
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Drawing 6: V
Carl Sydow Drawing 6: V
Carl Sydow has used these 20 cubes, each tilted onto one edge, to explore form, surface texture and the presence of objects within space. Taken individually, each object is distinct, as the 'light' falls in a different way on every surface, but together they form an engaging abstract pattern. Sydow created the work with a combination of precise ink drawing and the use of letrafilm, a system of ready-made transfers. The effect creates the illusion that the work is three-dimensional. Sydow's formal investigation of abstract properties such as colour, line, tone, volume and movement reflect the influence of Constructivism on his work. Born in Takapau, in the central Hawkes Bay, Sydow studied at the Schools of Fine Arts at both the University of Canterbury and Auckland University. After graduating, he went to the Royal College of Art, London, on an Arts Council grant from 1964 to 1966. Sydow regularly exhibited with The Group in Christchurch and was a founding member of the Sculptors’ Group, formed in 1970.
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Untitled
Gordon Walters Untitled
New Zealand painter Gordon Walters started making his optically charged paintings in 1956, four years before the British painter Bridget Riley, op art’s principal exponent, began working with similar ideas. Walters’ explorations owed much to his study of Māori and Papua New Guinean art and their positive/ negative treatment of space, and to the abstract modernist painting he had seen while in Europe in 1950–51. Although best-known for his koru (fern bud motif ) paintings, his later, more simplified works remained equally visually challenging. (Op + Pop, 6 February – 19 June 2016)
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Mang
Mark Braunias Mang
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Collection
Tootoo
Julia Morison Tootoo
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Collection
Mao Tse-Tung
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####[Op + Pop 6 February – 19 June 2016](http://christchurchartgallery.org.nz/exhibitions/op-pop) Closely associated with notions of fame and popular culture, Andy Warhol was a leading name in American pop art, and renowned for using the aesthetics of advertising and commercial printing techniques in his work. Warhol’s screenprint of Mao Tse-Tung was made when communist China’s founder was still alive. It adapted a portrait that was used throughout China in veneration of its leader and his ideas. The blue-faced Chairman Mao is one of a series of colour variations Warhol created, all equally startling. He made similar portraits of American icons including Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley and Mickey Mouse.
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Whiteout
Neil Dawson Whiteout
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Naturist
Reuben Paterson Naturist
In Naturist Reuben Paterson revels in geometric patterns and sharp contrasts between black and white, reminiscent of 1960s hard-edged abstraction, op-art and Maori designs. The delicate, illusory effect Naturist has on the viewer is heightened by Paterson’s use of glitter, a recurring feature in his work. Naturist draws on an installation at Riccarton House in 2004 where the artist created a black and white optical illusion of the landscape. Tapping into invisible, undulating energies left behind by Maori, Naturist is a study of how collective energies from the past are reflected in the land. Paterson graduated from the Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland, in 1997. In the same year he was selected as one of three recipients of the Moet & Chandon Fellowship, awarding him a six-week residency in France.
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Chromatic Variations IX
Mervyn Williams Chromatic Variations IX
This work is one a series of screenprints, the name of which reflects Mervyn Williams’ love of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music and also refers to variations in colour. He has said that Chromatic Variations IX can be looked at as if it was a Tibetan mandala, rather than simply being a design. Williams’ painting and printing have always centred on formal abstraction. In the Chromatic Variations series he abstracted forms in a complex manner and experimented with different colours in each print. Williams was born in Whakatane in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. In 1956 he met artist Ted Dutch (b. 1928) who got him interested in silk-screen work. Williams studied at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland. He won First Prize in the Graphic Section of the Hay’s Art Award in 1966 and was represented in the ‘International Biennale Exhibition of Graphic Art’ in Tokyo in 1966 and 1972. Williams also won the New Zealand Print Council Samarkand Award in 1969.