Reviews, News and Commentary

Auckland Art Fair offers diverse range of art

John Daly-Peoples

Frances Hodgkins, Christmas Tree

Auckland Art Fair

The Cloud, Auckland Waterfront

February 24 – 28

Next week the Auckland Art Fair  will be hosting over forty art galleries from New Zealand and around the Pacific showing  the breadth and diversity of art from the region. 

As well as exhibiting the latest and best in New Zealand contemporary art there are galleries showing major international works, historical works, aboriginal art as well as craft work by significant artists.


Gow Langsford Gallery will exhibit a work by British Modernist Henry Moore alongside a key painting by Frances Hodgkins.

Moore’s “Mother and Child: Block Seat” which will have an asking price in excess of $2 million is a rare opportunity to see works by this major British sculptor. The last time an artwork by Henry Moore was exhibited in New Zealand was in 2017, when the Auckland Art Gallery mounted Moore’s life-sized “Fallen Warrior”. Founding Gow Langsford Gallery director John Gow (MNZM) says of the Moore, “this is one of the most significant artworks to ever be exhibited at an Art Fair here in New Zealand, and it is the only work by Henry Moore of this scale in the country.”

Of Hodgkins’ “Christmas Tree” he says  it is “the most major late-1940s oil painting by Hodgkins. It’s a rare occasion that we can offer New Zealand a work of this quality onto the open market. This is one of the very few major works that is not in a public collection.” Alongside these masterworks the Gallery will exhibit works byColin McCahon and Tony Fomison as well as mid-career artists Graham Fletcher and Grace Wright.

Frances Hodgkins Christmas Tree and Henry Moore, Mother and Child: Block Seat


The Tim Melville Gallery be presenting an exhibition of three new stone sculptures by Joe Sheehan alongside an Alberto Garcia-Alvarez triptych dating from 1977, and an installation of Aboriginal artworks.

Joe Sheehan’s new sculptures weigh between 400kg and 700kg and are a major development from his 2019 sell-out exhibition ‘Real Estate’. 

JOE SHEEHAN, Invisible City ($45,000)

The Garcia-Alvarez triptych is painted on canvas gifted to him by Colin McCahon in the 1970s when he had just arrived in NZ from California. He had come to NZ to teach at Elam, just as McCahon was departing the University to paint full-time. He invited the artist and his young family to visit him (and his young family) at Muriwai. Knowing that he would not yet have any materials McCahon offered Alberto a roll of green  canvas to tide him over … from which this triptych was created.

ALBERTO GARCIA-ALVAREZ, Aidoneus Bed  (triptych), 1977 ($65000)

The Aboriginal works being presenting include a new screen-print by celebrated Arnhem Land bark artist Nonggirrnga Marawili, who recently had a major exhibition at  Sydney’s MCA as part of the 2020 Sydney Biennale.



Suite Gallery will be showing Tia Ansell, a Melbourne based New Zealand artist and  New York based artist Douglas Stichbury.

Tia Ansell is a Melbourne based New Zealand artist whose practice combines both painting and weaving.  Woven on a 4 or 6 shaft loom, and using a combination of threads such as cotton, linen, bamboo and silk to give different qualities of colour, texture and feel, woven surfaces provide the substrate for the painted surfaces. 
The woven grids form the basis of Tia’s work, representing the urban landscapes of her neighbourhood in the northern suburbs of Melbourne.  Her painting represents snippets of her immediate surroundings; a shaft of light, a window frame or a shadow.  Ansell’s aluminium frames, based on a museum storage tray, allow the weaving and painting to be reflected, extending the illusion of a repeated pattern

Tia Ansell, Oxford, cotton, wool and silk weaving,  – $2,000

Douglas Stichbury who won the Parkin Drawing Prize in 2014 and is now based in New York will be showing works which  continue to explore his interest in speculative 20th century science fiction.  Using industrial software Stichbury’s images are initially planned digitally through simulations, before being painted in dry brush oil on linen, a process inspired by Joan Miro’s raw linen paintings and brutalist abstract painting of the 1960s.   

The paintings  are based on a concept for a film titled the Glass House by the pioneering Soviet film director Sergei Eisenstein which was pitched to Paramount Films in 1930 but never made. The premise for the film, set sometime in the future, was of a completely glass residential building without consistent privacy, a musing on the architecture of surveillance and control.   

Douglas Stitchbury, Glass House, dry brush oil on linen, $12,500


Masterworks Gallery is showing work by Thomas Carroll (Ngāti Maru, Hauraki), Tania Patterson and Mike Crawford (Ngāti Raukawa, Pākehā)

Following the guidelines from experienced practitioners, Thomas Carroll has pursued his interest in Māori music, reconnecting to his own whakapapa and culture and finding his place within Taonga Puoro community. In these works he has used found timbers from a nearby beach, native Beech, Rata and Totara along with a newer addition of sand.

Patterson has created her bird portraits to honour the many threatened indigenous bird species in Aotearoa. Portraiture has historically been used to memorialise an image, recording the subject’s appearance and personality for the future. Tania feels it is important she does this as a means highlight the precarious nature of their future here.

Crawford has built a practice exploring the Māori lineage of his heritage and his interest in sculptural vessels. Research into hue (gourds) and their traditional use as storage for preserving birds has seen the evolution of his practice to forms that combine both bird and vessel characteristics. In his new bird/vessel forms he has captured these forms in flight, their movement expressed through reflective properties of glass. The rich history and the plethora of bird life in Aotearoa provides him with a wealth of inspiration for further investigation with these forms.

Tania Patterson – Kōtare, Kingfisher. Mike Crawford – Tāiko, Chatham Island Petrel (cast black glass, $6,000. Thomas Carroll (Ngāti Maru, Hauraki) – Kōauau, Cross-blown Flute $1,500


Artis Gallery will be exhibiting work by ray Ching and Andy Leleisi’uao

They will be showing a major new work by Ray Ching prior to his exhibition opening at ARTIS Gallery later this year. This exhibition will coincide with the launch of his latest limited edition book – ‘Fabled Lands’.

Now living in the UK, during 2010 Ching ventured into the genre of graphic novels, with the first publication titled ‘Aesop’s Kiwi Fables’ in which the tales were told by native birds, who took the place of the original actors.

Raymond Ching is renowned as New Zealand’s leading contemporary bird and figure painter.  Merging realism with fictional compositions, Ching’s oil paintings are incredibly detailed, with an almost photographic quality.

RAY CHING, The Pentinent

Wallace Art Award Winner Leleisi’uao’s is one of the most significant contemporary Pacific artists.  Known for his distinctive visual language that shows alternate universes populated by strange creatures. Immigrant communities and their experiences are central to Leleisi’uao’s works. An “artist of diaspora”, his work is reflective of his experience as a New Zealand born Samoan. He draws inspiration from ancient and modern history, news headlines and personal experiences.

His work is included in the permanent collections of Te Papa Tongarewa Wellington, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Pataka Museum & Art Gallery Lower Hutt, the Chartwell Collection and the Wallace Arts Trust .

ANDY LELEISI’UAO, Usland Village in Kamoa


Roger Mortimer’s magnificent large triptych Pakiri will feature prominently on Bartley & Company Art’s stand. Showing the ongoing development of Mortimer’s distinctive juxtapositioning of contemporary marine maps of Aotearoa New Zealand with medieval imagery, this ‘map’ covers the north Auckland east coast from Tawharenui in the south to Ruakaka in the north and includes Little Barrier and Great Barrier Islands. At a time of huge anxiety in the world, Mortimer’s work speaks to the notion of the moral imagination. How do we collectively construct a vision of right and wrong when so many in the western world no longer believe or trust in the given, in the untrammelled ‘progress’ of capitalism and concepts of heaven and hell that have defined and shaped western thinking and social frameworks?

Roger Mortimer, Pakiri, watercolour, gold dust and acrylic lacquer on canvas,

The gallery will also be showing several dramatic new paintings by Kelcy Taratoa. Exploring the complexity of cultural identity in the 21st century, Taratoa’s vibrantly-coloured super-flat paintings blend references to traditional Maori pattern with geometric modernism and space invader games. Ambiguity is at the heart of all of his work conceptually and materially.

Kelcy Taratoa, The Grey Matter, acrylic on canvas

Helen Calder is concerned with colour, form and how painting operates in space when freed of its traditional support on canvas and stretcher. Her three-dimensional paintings, paint skins’ offer a direct engagement with the materiality of paint, its colour, textural possibilities and weight. Here painting engages with the history of abstraction and pushes at its limits to adopt the terrain of sculpture.

Helen Calder, Orange and Green Red, acrylic paint skin on steel rod

Work by Claudia Jowitt will also be included. Her ‘painting’ allows sculptural force, and the three-dimensional, to pull on the two-dimensional painted surfaces. Conceptually there is also an interaction between an investigation of the feminine in art and the insertion of place into abstraction.

Claudia Jowitt, Baka III, acrylic, spray paint, rayon yarn, Fijian vau, paua shell, kina shell, cowrie shells, moulded acrylic, clay forms, bronze powder on linen

By johndpart

Arts reviewer for thirty years with the National Business Review

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