Celebrating both the grand and the intimate, Dick Frizzell’s new works are reminiscent of the time-honoured road trip. Small works reveal secret spots discovered en route and expansive vistas show lands yet to be explored.
The title work of the show, Grand Central, lays out folded hills and hazy mountains for our contemplation; Frizzell’s brushwork shimmers across the surface of the canvas. We stand on top of the ridge, drawn down into the valley by farm fences, powerlines and the metal road. As well as functioning as strong compositional devices, more importantly these speak to the New Zealand rural vernacular that Frizzell has visited over and again. The foregrounded hills are figured with sheep tracks and tractor furrows, but the backdrop to this recognisable, man-made country is an eroded, untamed massif, full of stark grandeur.
The paintings possess a real sense of distances travelled, often due to the repeated motif of roads and paths. Seen from what appears to be the driver’s seat, the familiarity of Frizzell’s scenes make it easy for us to imagine what lies beyond the hill or around the bend. In Shaded Track, he uses literal road markers and tyre tracks to enhance the picture in our mind’s eye. The tiny, golden treetop seen just over the rise, and the low wash of light on the cutting, draw the gaze and allow us to place the scene temporally as well as physically.
Frizzell’s ability to make the ordinary worthy of consideration is something seen throughout his practice: signs advertising apples, wheelbarrows, and tinned fish have all been immortalised in oils by the artist. The Honey Shoppe is the type of small country shop that can be found in any part of the country, although those familiar with the road south out of Dunedin will recognise it instantly. Frizzell presents it honestly, complete with 44-gallon drums, hand-lettered sign and mock-Tudor spelling. He does not mock or denigrate its simplicity, but celebrates its continued existence.