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Wellington artist embraces ‘Grey power’


Parade, by Irene Ferguson

27 June 2011


Wellington artist embraces ‘Grey power’

Irene Ferguson, the Wellington painter who won the New Zealand Portrait Gallery/Adam Portraiture Award in 2008, has a solo exhibition opening at Aratoi this weekend. In Torrid Grey, she pushes her subject matter beyond portraiture, to make paintings that “reflect the relationship between the ubiquitous nature of the photographic image, and traditional painterly space,” she says. “They explore how painting can express a photographic visual effect.”



“Torrid Grey is a paint colour made by Gamblin,” say’s Irene. “It’s the colour made from what’s left of all the other colours, sort of like the paint remnants bin all stirred together. I like the possibilities of a passionate midway gray.”

Born in Hokitika, Irene studied at the Otago School of Fine Art. She has exhibited widely around New Zealand and overseas including in The BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery, London (2006). She was awarded the William Hodges Fellowship in 2002, and completed her Master’s degree in New York in 2005. She was resident artist at Samuel Marsden Collegiate School in 2008, and in 2010 traveled to Italy to work at the studio of Charles H. Cecil in Florence.

Now based in Wellington, her work can be seen there at Suite Gallery, and a number of her portraits featured in the recent exhibition, The Art of Science, at the NZ Portrait Gallery. Irene is particularly interested in the tradition of portraiture, and art history, areas that she was able to immerse herself in during her time in Florence. However she often goes beyond the purely academic approach into surreal, witty and unsettling territories.

Torrid Grey – New paintings by Irene Ferguson, 2 July – 7 August.

Also currently showing at Aratoi: R.M.Fairweather presents Rocky Potae and the Hot Fonts, 10 June – 8 July; Ill Humour: Videos by Ronnie van Hout, 20 May - 10 July; Mana Pride - King Street Artworks group exhibition, 25 June – 24 July;

NZQA Best Portfolios, 27 June - 1 July. Arat

oi – Wairarapa Museum of Art & History, Bruce St, Masterton.

Open daily 10am-4.30pm. www.aratoi.co.nz.

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