Major new paintings including the Vertical Lyric Suite and an anchor work with a unique provenance: Plain Song for Ralph (the Hotere canvas).
11 September - 12 October 2016
Preview: Sunday 11 September 4pm
'The idea was to have a sense of yin yang, coming in with the notched edges, to stretch the colours in between... I want to work surface, and while the upper and lower notches anchor it, what I am really interested in is working with the big areas of colour, to give a feeling there is a pulse within them.
'They move around so there is a sense of journey within them.' - JS Parker, 2016
High energy, bold in colour, the Vertical Lyric Suite cements a return by leading NZ abstract painter JS (John Shotton) Parker to working on a grand scale, in an exhibition of new works focused on vast fields of pulsing colour.
There is still a nod in the notches to the colours and feeling of landscape, in a breath of sky or an intense spring green, and in the glory of memory of Roxborough Poplars. But above all, they simply celebrate and explore colour on a scale that immerses the viewer.
‘More colour is more engaging: there is a physicality that immerses you more,’ Parker observes. ‘That is why I like the impact of scale; it has an immensity, you get a bigger charge out of it, when it works and is resolved.’
And at 71, he says, ‘you might as well go for it’. In his early career, he worked on monumental scale and was further encouraged in this by Ralph Hotere, with whom he forged a strong collegial friendship while living in Dunedin in 1975 as Frances Hodgkins Fellow.
The powerful anchor to this exhibition is testament to that friendship, and is a special piece of art history: this was the last vast canvas the late Hotere began to plan out before ill health forced him to abandon it. He observed Parker was one of the few abstract painters who could handle its scale, and thus it ultimately came to Parker’s studio.
This new Plain Song for Ralph (the Hotere canvas), with its uncompromising midnight blue split by a thread of light or hope, expands ideas from Parker’s Light Through Darkness exhibited last year, and pays homage to both the late Ralph Hotere and Colin McCahon, A panel of cobalt anchored to the surface with umber, lifts the composition, and takes it into his series of Columns of Light.
Initially daunted by the provenance of the canvas, Parker found after a long period of planning, and studies in different colours, the final work flowed freely with a clear vision.
The Vertical Lyric Suite Blue expands that cobalt and umber panel to a commanding solo performance. At 71, JS Parker brings five decades of exploration of colour, surface and scale to bear, with impressive results.