Barry Cleavin

For background on the artist and works, see below.

Current Works

About the Artist

Internationally recognised as a master of the printmaking craft, Barry Cleavin uses labour-intensive age-old techniques to produce artworks of extraordinary precision – and political/social incisiveness. He has participated by invitation in numerous biennales and exhibitions of printmaking around the world, as well as solo exhibitions nationally and internationally. Although he is one of NZ’s most collectible printmakers, his work remains very affordable – in the true spirit of printmaking which evolved around five centuries ago to bring art and ideas to a broader audience.

Barry Cleavin is regarded by many as New Zealand’s most important and influential printmaker, and he has received critical acclaim internationally. Art critic Pat Unger noted: “Unlike Duchamp who explored a private experience in riddles, chances and anti-art objects, Cleavin communicates more widely; he exposes the follies, the vices and the ‘boutique fripperies’ of art and of contemporary life with easily available and elegant imagery.”

Recent Works

Digital limited edition works

Given a computer for his 60th birthday, Cleavin (after a few years’ hesitation) discovered a whole new world of possibility in disseminating ideas through digitised art and social media – he uses digital imagery to transform his own earlier etchings and drawings and merge them with images from photographs, drawings, and internet material, even superimposing images from advertising catalogues to emphasise the absurdities of a materialistic world driven to war and violence by commercial and corporate imperatives.

His acid wit infuses inkjet prints which layer digital and traditional art-making, produced in limited editions like his etchings, but at such affordable prices they deliver their message quickly into the world.

In 2013, Christchurch Art Gallery exhibited the 24-Hour Newsfeed, curated by Peter Vangioni, a substantial exhibition of Cleavin’s digital inkjet prints, focused on the endless flood of images of war, social and political absurdities beamed into the comfort of our living rooms every day. He provokes the viewer to consider how we receive and respond to the news, and whether we are ‘accessories after the fact’. Vangioni observes that Cleavin’s inkjet prints now form a recognised and substantial body of work in their own right; standing alongside his earlier acclaimed etchings and lithographs.

Etchings, aquatints & lithographs

Barry Cleavin’s etching/aquatints as always show a finely honed sense of humour and the bizarre, and a love of wordplay, laid over more serious perspectives on human frailties, absurdities and our place in the world. Double meanings, sometimes triple, abound.

More About the Artist

Born – Dunedin, New Zealand, 1939.
1963-66: Studied at Ilam School of Fine Art, University of Canterbury. Majored in painting, graduated with Honours.
1967 & 1972: Awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council Scholarship
1972: Studied at the Honolulu Academy of Fine Art, awarded the Hawaii Print Award.
1975: Artist in Residence, Gippsland Institute of Advanced Education, Victoria, Australia.
1978-1990: Senior Lecturer in Printmaking at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts
1983: Received Fulbright Fellowship to work and study at the Tamarind Institute, University of New Mexico.
1990s: Artist in Residence at various institutions around New Zealand.
2001: Awarded The New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM)
2005: Awarded Degree of Doctorate of Letters, University of Canterbury.

Barry Cleavin has exhibited widely in New Zealand since 1966, including major surveys of his work curated by leading public art galleries in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.
In Australia, large solo exhibitions have been presented at the GIAE in Victoria and the University of Tasmania School of Art.
In 1998 two exhibitions were staged in Japan, in the Sapporo Museum of Modern Art, where he was guest speaker and exhibitor, and in Hokkaido. He also exhibited in Oregon, USA, in 2003.
International Group Exhibitions include Print Biennales and Triennales in more than 20 cities throughout Europe, in the Middle East, Asia, the USA and South America.

His work is documented in numerous publications and art journals in New Zealand and overseas, including the international Allgemeines Kunstlerlexikon Art Dictionary.

After many years based in Christchurch, Barry Cleavin moved to Dunedin because of unremitting disruption following the 2011 earthquakes. Since the move, his work has become influenced by the external, as much as the internal, landscape.

Please contact us to confirm current prices: most prices are posted at the time of exhibition, and may be revised as the artists' values increase.