Within Landscape

New paintings from Lake Coleridge to Nelson

Wayne Seyb
22 September to 24 October 2015

'I am interested in how painters create a memory of a place that is even stronger than the real thing.'

‘I am interested in how painters create a memory of a place that is even stronger than the real thing.’

Wayne Seyb doesn’t so much paint the landscape, as inhabit it, and new journeys from Otago Peninsula to Nelson over the past year have generated a series of vigorous encounters from mountain to shore; from the raw edge of weather and wild water, to the controlled spaces of a reclaimed city.

With each expression of place, Seyb acknowledges not only the ‘elemental nature of the landscape’ but also a painter hero hovering nearby: van der Velden, McCahon, Woollaston, and Van Gogh.

The series is anchored by the dramatic Lake Coleridge, painted over time both in situ and from memory of how a wild norwester ‘ripped the lake into a raging sea’.  Stretching 2500mm across, it embraces the viewer with the physicality of the landforms, and a sense of power and wildness dwarfing human scale. Seyb travels more softly into the uplifted colour of Nelson and Tasman, a new series overlaid with memories of visiting Woollaston, but with more than a nod to Van Gogh in these tumbling skies and light spilling on water.

His places can be intimate, too, like the Red Zone Gardens which I had to include in this exhibition. Wayne Seyb became well known for his paintings of quake-ravaged Christchurch landmarks before they were demolished; this feels like the promise of renewal, the old fashioned roses and magnolias flowering defiantly in the remnants of private gardens, painted with feeling but without sentimentality.

Born in Temuka in 1961, Wayne Seyb has exhibited regularly since 1981 in dealer and public galleries throughout New Zealand, and in Germany. He has exhibited in Marlborough since 1996. He and his family moved from Karitane to Christchurch in 1999, when the Port Hills and Southern Alps became a new field of inspiration. After the Christchurch earthquake, he became well known for his paintings of the heritage buildings and streetscapes of Christchurch, making sense of what had happened and what remained through powerful works painted in situ on the devastated streets; now, that has evolved into paintings of the defiantly blooming remnant gardens.