Thursday, October 06, 2011


This is the most wildly entertaining art book I have come across in many a year! Frizzell, whose sense of humour and style we know from his many now iconic works of art, displays this same sense of humour and style  when selecting and writing about the 100 or so art images that have influenced his point of view.

I am always interested in lists people make whether they be lists of favourite restaurants, books, places to visit etc and so I was particularly keen to see which pieces of NZ art one of our most popular contemporary artists had chosen. And I can tell you I was surprised, delighted and intrigued by Frizzell's selection. Actually his text accompanying each piece is as interesting and entertaining, and sometimes provocative, as the art itself.
For example here is Landscape Overlooking Kaitawa, Waikaremoana 1948 by Doris Lusk and his text.
Sounds a bit misogynistic to say it, but Doris obviously bashed her way to the front of the queue by virtually beating the boys at their own game. I wonder how it went down at the time?

Hers are tough, uncompromising paintings, boldly taking in huge chunks of geography and taming them with extraordinary leaps of scale, tone and colour stitched together with dynamic patterning that cleverly uses mass and tertiary detail in constant tension across the surface of the composition. Even her dry scrubby brushwork seems to be the perfect vehicle for describing these raw environments.
With time, and practice, one suspects, she evolved a more sedate technique which never really captured the energy that her early works radiate so confidently. It would’ve been an exhausting act to maintain, I’d imagine.
(image courtesy of the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu (purchased 1955) and Patrick T Holland for the Doris Lusk Estate)

Here are some of his other selections from the book and with permission of the publishers:

From top to bottom:
1.Frances Hodgkins - Berries and Laurel
c.1930, oil on canvas - image courtesy of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Ta-maki (purchased with funds from the William James Jobson Trust, 1982);
2.Don Binney -Pigeon
1964, oil on board - image courtesy of the owner;
3.Juliet Peter -Untitled
1951, lithograph-370 x 460 mm
image courtesy of Brian Culy
4.Grahame Sydney
Slow Sign - 1975, egg tempera - image courtesy of the artist;
5.Ruth Cleland - Level 2
2007–2008, acrylic on linen - 560 x 835 mm
image courtesy of Melanie Roger Gallery (from the Wallace Trust Collection, Winner of the Park Lane Wallace Trust Development Award in the 2008 Wallace Art Awards) and of the artist
6.John Coley - Cut Back Macrocarpa1960
oil on canvas - image courtesy of the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu (purchased, 2007) and of the artist
A refreshing, delightful, fascinating and entertaining book that will have huge appeal to those both within and without the NZ art world. Be sure to check it out.You will be surprised at some of his inclusions and comments. 
Actually it makes for a super collection of NZ art from the 20th + 21st centuries.

Random House NZ - $65.00
Publication tomorrow - 7 October 2011

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