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07 June 2001 —
01 July 2001

Think Colour: art is never just black and white

Think Colour, 2001 (installation view).
Emily Karaka, Jewel of the Crown, 2000 (installation view). 1480mm x 2350mm.
Gretchen Albrecht, Pohutukawa (study no 2), 1999. Oil and acrylic on belgian linen. 2000mm width.
Gretchen Albrecht, West Coast - Red, Gold Sky, 1976-77. Acrylic on canvas. 1800mm x 2000mm.Gretchen Albrecht, West Coast - Red, Gold Sky, 1976-77, acrylic on canvas, 1800mm x 2000mm_web
Jeff Brown, Work, 1999 (installation view). Oil and aluminium on plywood. 2400mm x 2400mm.
Jeffrey Harris, Ring her name with roses, 1977-78 (installation view).
John Reynolds, Stories, Parables & Aphorisms, 1996 (installation view).
Len Lye, God of Light, 1977 (installation view). 2111mm x 2193mm.
Matthew Browne, Union, 2000 (installation view). Acrylic on linen. 1830mm x 1830mm.
Max Gimblett, Holy Smoke, 1996 (installation view). Acrylic polymer, pigments on bleached linen canvas. 2280mm diameter.
Max Gimblett, Red, Black, White, Gold, 1984-85 (installation view). Metallic pigments on acrylic on canvas. 386mm x 382mm.
Milan Mrkusich, Emblem IV, Dividing of the waters, 1963 (installation view). Oil on canvas. 1475mm x 1069mm.
Philip Clairmont, Staircase Triptych - 36 Roy St, 1977 (installation view). Acrylic and oil on jute.
Philip Trusttum, Thru, 1995 (installation view). Acrylic on canvas. 1810mm x 4710mm. James Wallace Collection.
Philippa Blair, Flight Path, 1999 (installation view). Acrylic on canvas. 1500mm x 1200mm.
Rob McLeod, Tarroll, 2000 (installation view). Oil on plywood. 2000mm x 2000mm.
Rudolph Gopas, Bridge, 1961 (installation view). 585mm x 685mm.


Colours are forces, radiant energies that affect us positively or negatively whether we are aware of them or not. Think Colour - art is never just black and white presents an opportunity to consider how the use of colour in contemporary New Zealand painting reflects our identity and affects us all.

This exhibition celebrates the work of leading New Zealand colourists. Though each of the artists in the exhibition approaches the activity of painting differently, all of them use colour as an expressive tool to explore its emotional power. The participating artists have an innate and intuitive feeling for colour and engage the viewer in an intense relationship through its use.

The twentieth century has often been called the period when colour finally came into its own. There has been a progressive lightening of the palette and an exploration of colour as an expressive tool. Yet in the post-modernist landscape of New Zealand painting, the restricted palette has become mainstream. Artists who do persist in using colour are often undervalued. The colours enjoyed by a nation often reveal something about the people. There is something so pervasive about the use of black in New Zealand that is must surely reflect an aspect of national identity.

This exhibition, in celebrating leading New Zealand colourists, begs the question: what lies behind New Zealand’s passion for black? Why do artists eschew strong and vibrant colour in favour of a restrained palette? Why has black become such a significant colour in New Zealand painting? Can it be that our passion for black, which is so intimately associated with our national identity, is reflective of a lingering puritanism, an emotional reticence in our national psyche?

The exhibition seeks to foster a more inclusive environment for New Zealand painting, allowing for greater celebration of colour in New Zealand art.

- Helen Kedgley


→ Think Colour, 2001, exhibition card

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