Philip Trusttum was born in Canterbury (NZ) in 1940. He remembers being average at art as he was growing up. He enjoyed painting, so his parents organised an art tutor to teach him once a week. During this time he used watercolours and then oils. By the age of 15 he didn’t want to do painting anymore, and instead he took up horse riding.
When he left school he worked in a department store in Christchurch. He kept drawing in his spare time. He liked drawing cars. Two other boys that he worked with were going to art school so he decided to apply also. He succeeded, and completed three years of study there.
After art school he worked as a post man for five years until he was 30 years old. After that he decided to stop being a post man and concentrate on his paintings. This was a really hard time for him because he was not earning much money. One year he only earned $2,000. His main influences were Rudi Gopas, Don Pebbles, Jackson Pollock and De Kooning.
He met Gopas at art school when he heard him yelling at the class next door. The next year he was Philip’s tutor and he realized Rudi Gopas was the best teacher at art school. He believes you should paint what affects you. He made a decision to paint what he wanted to paint, rather than painting subjects that other people might like to buy.
At present Philip lives on a farm in Waimate in the South Island. Much of his subject matter centres around the activities on the farm such as building fences and looking after the horses. When Philip emerged from art school he was considered a pivotal painter. As you can tell by looking at his works he is somewhere between realism and abstraction. His subjects, horses, lawn mowing and wood chopping, reflect both his domestic and private life.
He moves between painting expressively and a more controlled linear method. His paintings are huge montages that are 3 metres high. These images are painted on goat skin parchment and usually are tacked to the wall of the gallery. They continue the theme he has followed before, that of his own life and the full extent of his interests and pursuits.
→ Philip Trusttum: Remix, 2003, exhibition card