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Realist, Surrealists, for Real!

Wed, 29 Sep 2004

Realist, Surrealists, for Real!

In a rare exhibition of their new work, a group of New Zealand¹s most accomplished surrealist and realist artists are featured in the opening exhibition ŒRealism/Surrealism¹ at the new Real Gallery in Newmarket.

Brent Wong, and Alvin Pankhurst, both internationally recognised for their surrealistic works over the past three decades are joined by Craig Primrose and Graham Downs, whose mood-invoking realist paintings have attracted recent critical acclaim.

The new gallery situated in the heart of the interior design precinct in Newmarket aims to establish a reputation for top quality New Zealand contemporary art from artists with very individual and unique styles. Gallery owner Guy Herbert says I have been a passionate follower of the realist school in New Zealand art for many years and when space in Davis Crescent became available I leapt at the opportunity to establish a gallery there.

Herbert, who has a legal background and is also developing tourism ventures in the South Island continues I have called on the experience of art consultant Denis Robinson to help launch the opening exhibition and get the gallery up and running, and I hope to extend exposure for our stable of artists to other galleries planned in the south. There is great appreciation by overseas visitors to our country¹s representational art.

The new works in the case of Pankhurst have taken a major new direction and style, and others such as Primrose have refined the subject matter and technique of his paintings to convey the emotions he feels. The exhibition opens on 6 October and runs throughout the month. The gallery's hours are 10.30am ­ 5pm Tuesday to Friday and 10.30am ­ 4pm Saturdays. Real Gallery can be found at 27 Davis Crescent (behind the Cinema complex on Broadway), Newmarket. Tel 918 2257.

Artists and Bios

Alvin Pankhurst: After three decades Alvin Pankhurst remains an established figure on the New Zealand art scene, having made a considerable impact from his first exhibited paintings.

Born in the Wairarapa, he studied graphic design at the Wellington Polytechnic School of Design from 1966 – 69. In June 1969, during his Honours year, Pankhurst was seriously burnt and all his work was lost in a studio fire. When he left hospital, his first painting was a self portrait; his second painting Urban Sprawl was a finalist in the 1970 national Benson & Hedges Art Award and is currently in a private collection.In 1974 his painting ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ won the Benson & Hedges Art Award. It was bought by the Dunedin Art Gallery, achieving a record price for a New Zealand painting at that time.

His detailed paintings (acrylic on canvas) are realist and surrealist in style. His work is represented in the DPAG, Hoken, Southland Museum, and Te Papa and was selected for the Royal Academy of London’s Summer Exhibition of 2001. His recent work for the exhibition was inspired by a commission for the Fox Glacier Hotel and mixes the spectacular southern landscape with the soft contours of the nude body, all within Pankhurst’s surrealist concepts.

Brent Wong Born in Otaki in 1945, his interest in drawing began at school where he developed a good visual memory. In 1961 he became interested in contemporary art and began to imitate various influences, notably Paul Klee.

In 1966 he began black and white figurative work, and from the doodles of architectural studies, began a series of interior paintings, which later evolved into landscapes with strange structures sitting on, or floating above them. This very distinct style of work with its sharply defined imagery and blue skies made a lasting impression on the viewers of the time, and are now tightly held by those who purchased then, and now commanding prices of $70-100,000 when auctioned.

In the 1970’s the architectural formations disappeared from his work, although some houses and ruins remained, and familiar objects such as shells and rocks, in varying proportions, began to inhabit the works. From this time came the land/seascapes with clouds predominating, which has continued to the present day. He has been working purposefully for over 25 years in this style, creating a major body of works. Surrealism has been a basic influence, but his images invoke a feeling of heightened realism and sense of dislocation. In 1980 Wong moved to Auckland and later to North West Auckland in 1989. He considers his work as being very symbolical and autobiographical.

Craig Primrose

Craig was born in Auckland in 1956. He is well known throughout New Zealand and abroad for his skillful portraiture, sporting imagery and stunning landscapes in oil. Craig has been painting since he was a teenager and he has now been a full-time artist for 18 years. He has exhibited both here and overseas, having several sell out exhibitions in the USA. Craig’s interest in sport has led him to produce many works celebrating tennis, yacht racing and Formula One Motor Racing; he has worked closely with Prada, Ferrari and Jaguar, the America’s Cup and the Australian Tennis Masters.

His skill in portraiture led to him being commissioned to paint a portrait of Sir Edmund Hillary to commemorate the 50th anniversary of his first ascent of Mt Everest.

Craig has a passion for the New Zealand landscape; his interest lies in the changeable nature of the weather and atmospheric conditions. A love for fly-fishing has led him to paint many South Island scenes, often featuring lakes and river valleys. His works are finely detailed, the imagery depicted can be in some cases tranquil and calm and at other times turbulent, his crashing waves and cloud formations are expertly rendered

Craig has work in collections throughout Europe, Australia, Asia and America. He works in oils, on fine linen or canvas, using high quality paints and brushes.

Graham Downs:

Graham had a classical training in fine art with Owen Lee, before embarking on a career in graphic design. At the same time he continued to study his true mentors such as Turner, Sargent, Rembrandt, Bonnington and others.

He continued to paint and exhibit overseas before returning to Auckland where he has worked mainly on commissions.

He is deeply attached to the New Zealand Landscape with its unique beauty and his style is well suited to capture the texture of the land and the purty of the light. His other interest is figurative work, particularly the ordinary people who help build our country. There are many of his works in corporate collections throughout New Zealand and in private collections in Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland, London and New York.


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