For background on the artist and works, see below.
About the ArtistWayne Seyb’s vigorous oil paintings capture the raw energy of the New Zealand landscape, an expression of feeling of place rather than a literal interpretation. He typically uses intense colour applied boldly and thickly, in sweeping strokes to express his response the mountains, rivers and coastline of the South Island. Seyb has also worked on woodcuts throughout his career, and these prints have the typical energy, immediacy and expressiveness of his paintings, with an additional directness which derives from the precise demands of the medium.
Wayne Seyb recently returned to landscape painting, after a few years of intense work capturing the last proud moments of Christchurch’s damaged heritage buildings before they were pulled down, his way of making sense of the February 2011 earthquake. Initially he explored the urban/peripheral Christchurch landscape after moving to Halswell while his Avonside home and studio was repaired, as well as revisiting Karitane where he and his family once lived.
This exploration broadened out into the Canterbury countryside, in new post-quake landscapes notable for their heightened colour; and for birdlife, as the artist lifts his gaze from the ruined streets to the hills, harbours and skies.
You have to have an imaginative hook, to look at the landscape, he says, because otherwise it is just the picturesque. “I like to look at it as something symbolic. It gives a more symbolic edge to the landscape which is what inspires me to paint.”
After February 2011, he was a familiar sight to workers and residents in the hardest hit areas of the earthquake-stricken city, documenting both treasured buildings and poignant streetscapes in remarkable oil paintings on canvas. In his typical expressive style, he captured the personality of much-loved buildings with great affection, in works which somehow transcended the tragedy of the loss of icons of the city.
He captured within them the spirit and resilience of Christchurch, in the last proud moments of heritage buildings, as beloved vistas change. The actual dates the paintings were completed are on the back of each canvas, so the series became a visual diary. Seyb also depicted street scenes with workers cleaning up, police working, facades stripped away; beneath the appropriately turbulent skies of autumn and winter. While he painted, police stopped traffic to allow him to move canvasses, workers put orange cones around him, support crews and bakeries gave him hot tea and scones. In a way, he became the painting equivalent of the wizard of Christchurch…
Seyb is never self-conscious in creating paintings – it has always been about his instinctive and personal response to what is happening immediately around him, what he actually sees.
Although the landscape always beckons him, making sense of the rebuild of Christchurch continues to prompt city paintings, including one massive continuous painting, a sequence of works on a vast scale.
More About the Artist
Born in Temuka in 1961, Wayne Seyb studied formally for a year at Otago before leaving to pursue his individualist direction. He set up a co-operative gallery, Artattack, in 1981, and has since exhibited regularly in dealer and public galleries throughout New Zealand, and in Germany.
Wayne Seyb and his wife and children lived for a decade in Karitane near Dunedin, its landscape inspiring much of his painting. They moved to Christchurch in 1999, when the Port Hills, the Southern Alps and West Coast of the South Island became a new field of inspiration, although Otago and Southland continue to feature strongly in his paintings.
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