Calm, enigmatic and elegant works of art by Don Peebles.
Arriving in London in 1960 and experiencing the ideas and works of British constructionist artist Victor Pasmore was ‘like a kick in the guts’ for the abstract painter Don Peebles. In England to look, learn and paint, Peebles became preoccupied with abstraction and began constructing his art using wooden shapes and Perspex, which he complemented with painting and drawing. He continued to refine this new style on his return to New Zealand in 1962. Restrained and elegant, his relief constructions emerge from the wall with a calm and enigmatic presence unique in New Zealand art. The exhibition brings together some of the artist’s most accomplished work from collections throughout New Zealand
- Curator: Peter Vangioni
- Exhibition number: 1037
Today Don Peebles (1922–2010) is recognised for his significant contribution to the development of abstraction in twentieth-century New Zealand art.
Don Peebles: A Free Sense of Order
There’s a wonderful film on Don Peebles in the Gallery’s archive that provides a fascinating insight into the artist’s practice. Produced around 1980, it shows Peebles working in his studio and walking through his garden, past the fruit trees to his shed down the back, with an audio interview overdubbed. My favourite scene shows the artist in the shed with a box full of various wooden shapes that he has collected over the years, which he takes out and loosely assembles on a small sheet of plywood – a free sense of order created out of these seemingly random pieces.
Since late 2006 when I started as director of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, I’ve written several times about our art collections in Bulletin forewords. Given their centrality to our daily work and our reason for being, this is unsurprising. So it’s good news that we’re focusing on collections in this edition of our quarterly journal.