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Gordon Walters: New Vision, more than 150 artworks

The Dunedin Public Art Gallery and Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki have partnered to present Gordon Walters: New Vision, an exhibition of more than 150 artworks by Gordon Walters (1919–1995). The exhibition opens on Saturday 11 November at Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

Two years in the making, and with unprecedented access to the private archives of the Walters Estate, this exhibition offers a unique opportunity to examine the breadth of more than fifty years of Walters’ practice.

The title New Vision references a breakthrough moment in Walters’ career in 1966 when he presented 12 radically abstract geometric paintings, inspired by his study of Māori art, at the New Vision Gallery in Auckland.

Walters is best known for his rhythmical black and white koru paintings in which he explored the dynamics of positive and negative space. Resolutely abstract, these works remain as powerful today as when they were first presented.

The exhibition title also implies a new way of looking at Walters’ work. It gestures towards the central premise of the exhibition: that the colourful gouaches the artist made in the 1950s served as a foundation for his practice and stimulated a rigorous investigation into the potential of a group of forms through which Walters found increasing levels of refinement.

Dunedin Public Art Gallery Director Cam McCracken says a survey exhibition of Gordon Walters’ complete oeuvre is long overdue.

‘The new curatorial perspectives, new material and new research offered in Gordon Walters: New Vision contribute substantially to our understanding and appreciation of this great New Zealand artist.’

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Auckland Art Gallery Director Rhana Devenport says Gordon Walters saw his art as a way of making sense of his environment.

‘The rigour of his enquiry, and the subtlety of his synthesis of elements from local and international art, continues to be a major source of inspiration for New Zealand artists.’

Devenport says the collaborative nature of the project between DPAG and Auckland Art Gallery has been a major success.

‘Knowledge sharing amongst experts from both institutions and beyond has ensured Walters’ practice has been thoroughly explored and also seen in a new light,’ she says.

The Walters Estate’s Gregg Schneideman says the Estate has been delighted to support Gordon Walters: New Vision and the associated research of the exhibition curators and their institutions.

‘The exhibition and accompanying publication present fresh insights and surprising linkages in an approachable and exciting manner and really do offer new ways of looking at Gordon Walters and his work,’ he says.

A substantial publication, Gordon Walters: New Vision, is being co-published by Auckland Art Gallery and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery to mark the occasion of this exhibition. This definitive and sumptuous book presents colour plates of works in the exhibition alongside other key works and includes essays by the three curators of the exhibition – Lucy Hammonds (Dunedin Public Art Gallery), Julia Waite (Auckland Art Gallery) and Professor Laurence Simmons (University of Auckland) – and six leading New Zealand and international scholars (Deidre Brown, Peter Brunt, Rex Butler, A.D.S. Donaldson, Luke Smythe and Thomas Crow) that reflect upon and reconsider the relationship between Walters’ work and his key sources of inspiration and influences.

The publication will be released to the public on Saturday 11 November 2017.

Exhibition details:

Gordon Walters: New Vision

Dunedin Public Art Gallery
Saturday 11 November 2017 to Sunday 8 April 2018
10am to 5pm daily except Christmas Day. Free entry

Gordon Walters: New Vision

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
Saturday 7 July to Sunday 4 November 2018
10am to 5pm daily except Christmas Day. Free entry


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