Described recently by T.J. McNamara in the New Zealand Herald as New Zealand’s ‘Picasso,’ Dick Frizzell has demonstrated time and again a stylistic virtuosity that is masterful, unique, astonishingly diverse and unparalleled in New Zealand art.
Up the Road admirably demonstrates Frizzell’s artistic processes in two substantial suites of co-joined works of gouache on paper and acrylic on canvas. The gouaches are exquisitely delivered with stroke by stroke certainty and profound sense of place. The increased scale and textural qualities of the canvas paintings evidence how he then takes a work up in scale and broadens further the visual information and result.
“Each work has a road in the middle going into the distance in perspective. Some drive straight to the horizon while others curve away out of sight. They may be tar sealed or no more than rutted tracks. Many are rural driveways. Some pass through avenues of trees or go over a hill. They all pose the question: “Where does that lead to?” The roads, trees and light are painted with extraordinary skill” and “are completely successful. The sureness of Frizzell’s hand is seen in his firm touch in everything from fence posts to a variety of trees and the texture of road surfaces. Every touch of paint is decisive and the quality is absolutely even.” (1)
Frizzell has a visual language that is unmistakeably his own. Each work declares and hides information in ways that collectively constitute his painterly style. We experience visual rhythms in every work, see portions of buildings, eschew signs, fences, gates that are always open, trees alone in the landscape and landscapes made by trees.
This powerful, and let it also be stated, beautiful exhibition is extended further with three major works - Orinoco Driveway II (2014), Misty Morning on the Forgotten Highway (2015), Misty Barn (2015) - adding compellingly different tones, atmospheres and further evidence of Frizzell’s stylistic virtuosity. There is also an immense painting of two tree stumps and the drawing that was the source. This subject has occurred repeatedly through Frizzell’s career and constitutes one of the loaded narrative symbols of New Zealand art about our rural environment and its use.
1. T.J. McNamara, “On the Long and Winding Road,” New Zealand Herald, April 11, 2015.