For background on the artist and works, see below.
About the ArtistIt’s like capturing a moving target, trying to define this provocative artist who crossed so many boundaries in art in his observation of our world, societies, cultures and modern art itself. Don Driver, who died in 2011, was one of New Zealand’s most senior and respected artists, and his works are an important part of this country’s major public and private collections. He often used ‘found’ materials – the trappings of suburban or agricultural life, or objects discarded by our material society – but the mundane became mysterious, unsettling, provocative or humorous when he brought these objects together with his own artistic magic. (He was once a keen amateur magician). Frequently he incorporated implements with a sharp edge – literally – farm or garden implements which suggest a dangerous edge to an apparently civilised society relatively recently emerged from colonialism. Don Driver is widely acclaimed as New Zealand’s master of assemblage art. He notably asked: “why paint?” when there is a world full of existing materials and objects of intense colour or loaded with meanings, which he brought together to tell our stories, challenge us to think about New Zealand and the world, and simply create works of unexpected harmony or compositional balance. However, he incorporated painting, and other media, into his work. Many were prompted by his passion for aircraft, alongside works focused on social and historical commentary, the youth culture and the quest for meaning in life.
We retain a small number of works by Don Driver in the stockroom – including hangings and one of his sought-after tondoes. Please enquire for images and details.
More About the Artist
Don Driver was born in Hastings, New Zealand, in 1930. He moved with his family in 1943 to New Plymouth, where he lived and worked for most of his career. In the 1940s he became actively interested in magic, a fascination which flowed into his art works, and his desire to create many levels of meaning, mystery unfolding.
In the mid-1970s he had a stroke which paralysed his right side, forcing him to learn again to speak, walk and use his right hand. Undaunted, he continued to work, with assistance from his wife Joyce (a musician and teacher). His communication became channelled through his art. He was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition With Spirit, which toured New Zealand’s leading public galleries in 2000-2001.
Critic Allan Smith said in the book With Spirit “he makes the ordinary world look exotic”… From road signs, discarded brightly coloured clothing, drainage pipe, dolls, or tools, to paint pots, bath mats and old sacks – he used these in assemblages and wall hangings, presenting a view of society and abstraction at the same time. He was fascinated by texture, form and juxtaposition of colour.
There has rightly been a surge of enthusiasm for Driver’s work in the past decade – his ideas and energy remained as fresh and original as a young artist’s, throughout his career, but with all the knowledge of 50 years of art practice. His work would not be out of place in New York, London or Paris.