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Auckland Art Gallery opens a major retrospective of the works of Gordon Walters
Marti Friedlander, Gordon Walters in his studio, 1978. Marti Friedlander Archive E H McCormick Research Library. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki on loan from The Gerrard and Marti Friedlander Charitable Trust.

AUCKLAND.- Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki presents Gordon Walters: New Vision, a major retrospective of one of New Zealand’s foremost modern artists.

The exhibition offers a rare opportunity to experience the full spectrum of Walters’ sophisticated abstraction. It includes more than 130 artworks: from the early surrealist drawings of the mid-1940s and colourful gouache paintings of the 1950s, through to the visually complex koru series of the 1970s, and the later, refined geometric works.

Gordon Walters: New Vision begins with the surviving paintings first seen in Walters’ milestone 1966 exhibition at Auckland’s New Vision Gallery, when Walters chose – after many years of working in isolation – to make his abstract artworks public.

With unprecedented access to the private archives of the Walters Estate, this exhibition is the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s complete body of work, including preparatory sketches and notebooks.

Auckland Art Gallery Director Rhana Devenport says this is the most significant exhibition of Walters’ work to date.

‘Rarely do we see such a complete exhibition of an artist’s practice. Many of these works have not been seen since they were first exhibited by Gordon Walters as far back as the 1940s. Some have rarely been on public view and are drawn from New Zealand and international collections, including those privately held.’

‘Developed in close partnership between Auckland Art Gallery and Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Gordon Walters: New Vision has brought together experts from both organisations and beyond to ensure this immensely significant artist’s practice has been thoroughly explored and presented in a new light,’ says Devenport.

Exhibition co-curator and Auckland Art Gallery Curator, New Zealand Art, Julia Waite says Gordon Walters: New Vision provides an in-depth look into the history of Walters’ development, and reveals the different art forms that fuelled his vision and inspired the creation of his own unique visual language.

‘Many connect Walters’ name with his koru-inspired paintings. New Vision reveals how these profoundly modern and at times controversial works were the culmination of years of work and visual research into the arts of other cultures, which took the artist – both physically and imaginatively – offshore,’ she says.

‘New Vision looks beyond the koru to those forms that were equally significant to Walters’ practice to better appreciate the full extent of his artistic enquiries.’

"'New Vision' looks beyond the koru to those forms that were equally significant to Walters’ practice to better appreciate the full extent of his artistic enquiries."
Julia Waite, exhibition co-curator

The Walters Estate’s Gregg Schneideman says the Estate has been delighted to support Gordon Walters: New Vision and the associated research of the exhibition curators and their organisations.

‘The exhibition and accompanying publication present fresh insights and surprising linkages in an approachable and exciting manner, and really do offer new ways of looking at Gordon Walters and his work,’ he says.

Gordon Walters: New Vision has been has been developed in partnership with Dunedin Public Art Gallery. The exhibition was co-curated by Julia Waite (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki), Lucy Hammonds (Dunedin Public Art Gallery), and Professor Laurence Simmons (University of Auckland).

Pioneering abstract artist Gordon Walters (1919–1995) is a revered figure in New Zealand, recognised for a long and productive career spanning five decades. Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki presented the exhibition, Gordon Walters: A Retrospective, in 1983 and the survey exhibition, Parallel Lines: Gordon Walters in Context, in 1994. His work was included in A Very Peculiar Practice: aspects of recent New Zealand painting at the City Gallery, Wellington in 1995. In 2006, Gordon Walters was represented in the 5th Asia Pacific Triennial at the Queensland Art Gallery. His work is represented in the country’s major public art collections and his place in our art history is memorialised in the bi-annual Walters Prize exhibition and award at Auckland Art Gallery.

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