For background on the artist and works, see below.
About the ArtistPhilip Trusttum is recognised as one of the major expressive painters of his generation, known particularly for his large works full of energy, colour, and vigour, inspired by the everyday world as he engages with it, whether politics, events, family, stories, and objects. Philip Trusttum graduated with a Diploma in Fine Arts from the University of Canterbury in 1964. In 1967 he travelled on a Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council scholarship, and has worked in Europe and North America. He was part of ANZART at the Edinburgh Arts Festival, 1984 – the same year he exhibited on New York’s 57th Street at the Jill Kornblee Gallery. He has shown in Sydney, New York, Melbourne, Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch, and is represented in all major public and private collections within New Zealand.
His recent Signs series offer a subversive commentary on the domestic prohibitions around Christchurch—at the entrance to parks, roads, building sites, pathways. These paintings — not before exhibited — have the pared back colour and lighter touch of long experience, while still retaining his trademark energy and edgy humour.
Cyclists appear determined to ride out of the red circle of prohibition, small eager dogs strain as the leash against the strong red diagonal insisting ‘No Go!’ His viewpoint is typically skewed, with the signs viewed from oblique angles, a sense of squashed space, making everyday street language into something strange and disruptive, a push back against authority. Of the first Signs works exhibited in 2016, reviewer Edward Hanfling observed:
‘One registers the sensation of fleeting glimpses, as if from someone actualy riding a bike, of movement and shifting qualities of light, fragments and ruptures, glances down, and things suddenly looming close… Trusttum’s paintings are different from many other forms of contemporary art in that they are so damned delicious.’ – Art New Zealand issue 164
More About the Artist
Philip Trusttum, one of New Zealand’s leading expressive painters, is known particularly for his large works full of energy, colour, and vigour, inspired by the everyday world as he engages with it, whether politics, events, family, stories, and objects. He transforms observed life into degrees of abstraction, and in recent years that has been influenced by the legacy of the earthquakes in his home base of Christchurch.
Trusttum’s Alphabet series offers works on a very accessible domestic scale, evolving initially from a single letter as a starting point. By the end of this series, they had evolved to the point the letter was often quite obscure, as other aesthetic interests took over in the composition. The letters of his own name, especially P for Philip, formed the basis of several of the series.
In 2011 he produced a major series focused on rugby players, their movements and forms, presented in the manner of puppet forms. He arranged the limbs in different ways on the wall, photographed these against different backgrounds and created one-off monoprints on aluminium panels. These were the last of his Rugby World Cup series, the depiction of falling players influenced by the Christchurch earthquakes.