Three groups of works – glass, paintings and sculpture – dominate Masterworks '09, representing in-depth the significant artistic achievement in these different mediums.
Ann Robinson’s Twisted Flax Pods (2008) is directly comparable to a similar work just acquired by Te Papa. Garry Nash’s work is likewise held in museum collections worldwide. Family at Play (1987) is a key work from an internationally acclaimed series. Luke Jacomb (solo show currently exhibiting at the Milwaukee Decorative Arts Museum, previously at New Orleans Museum of Art) is represented by an astonishing Reticello Canoe Paddle (2008). Claudia Borella and Galia Amsel exhibit worldwide being acknowledged as internationally significant glass artists – Borella’s Transference (2008) and Amsel’s Slice on Mars 4 (2008) are wonderfully delivered, demonstrating why their works are collected by leading museums.
Neil Dawson’s exploration of the cone form – (see the Chalice in Christchurch’s Square) – has been long-term and central to all his sculptural concerns. The role performed by colour, line-of-sight and form alteration is augmented by shadow, pattern and scale change in remarkable ways in Vanishing Point 6 (2007). John Edgar (who was acknowledged in this year’s New Years Honours for his significant contribution to New Zealand sculpture) is represented by Operator (2006) and two Cube forms (from a series of works to be shown in August this year at Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh). Tim Main and Hannah Kidd who have risen to national acclaim in recent times are represented by works which raise significant questions of cultural values and environmental use.
Ralph Hotere is one of this country’s greatest artists. Avignon (1987) is indisputably a great work and featured in the wonderful recent Ron Sang publication on his most important paintings. Winter Solstice (1993) is equally characteristic but from a seldom available series featuring paper handmade by the artist. Michael Hight’s Chard Farm (2007) is an outstanding painting of the Lakes District and the well-known vineyard. Karl Maughan’s Nasturtiums (1995) is full of detail and deft touches. Jeffrey Harris’s Crucifixion (2002/3) is an absolute masterpiece and in Two People in Love the tenderness of love awaits the falling leaves of autumn. Nigel Brown challenges the power and architecture of words in Integrity (2005) forging a metaphorical relationship with the landscape it obstructs. Reuben Paterson – who will be one of the featured artists in the next Asia Triennial, Brisbane Dec 2009 – explores the languages of fashion and pattern as cultural motifs whilst playing with perception, space and light. A book and survey show of JS Parker’s abstract works is in advanced preparation – Plain Song: Winter’s Brown (2007) is a wonderful container of moment and place.
Robert Ellis, Niki Hastings-McFall, Peter James Smith, Garry Currin, Katherine Smyth, Graham Bennett, Simon Kaan, Peata Larkin and Lorraine Rastorfer are also represented by works of artistic distinction. Masterworks 09 by any criteria applied is a major exhibition and testimony to the unmistakeable success, confidence, depth and breadth of New Zealand art.