New Zealand Painting for the Young & Curious
Gregory O’Brien - AUP - $34.99
I fit into the curious category mentioned in the sub-title and have to say straight off that I loved reading and viewing this book.
O’Brien (right) is a remarkable and multi-talented author. I first came across him as a poet and artist who illustrated his own collection of verse back in the mid-80’s and since then, while still producing excellent art and verse, he has also become a well-regarded art curator, teacher, commentator on art and literature and author.
His Welcome to the South Seas: Contemporary NZ Art for Young People won the 2005 Elsie Locke Award and the non-fiction category od the 2005 New Zealand Post Book Awards.
This new book is a splendid piece of publishing. A handsome hardback with truly appealing end-papers featuring art by O’Brien, (I liked this O’Brien art so much I endeavoured to buy it but alas someone got in before me), the selected art is in full colour throughout on good quality heavyweight art paper. And O’Brien’s choice of artists and art is interesting too. Many of our most famous visual artists are here but the art selected is not necessarily what one might have expected. And one perhaps surprise but pleasing inclusion is Phil Judd with his Cover For Mental Notes. Judd was once best-known as a member of the band Split Enz.
At the back of the book O’Brien provided brief biographies of all the featured artists.
Note that this title is not published until 9 May but I got so excited about it I had to write about it immediately. I hope publishers AUP will forgive me for printing the review three weeks ahead of publication date.