Tuesday 21 September 2010
Last week, the funeral for Greg Flint occurred here at Auckland. This was a sad moment of passing and the Auckland Art Gallery expresses our sincerest condolences to Greg’s family and to his many friends.
I was unable to be present at the memorial ceremony but a friend was there and she told me how moving the event was for everyone present. I remember with pleasure visiting Greg’s art gallery on many occasions and recall the wonderful contemporary art exhibitions that he both initiated and organised.
I think Greg was the first art dealer to introduce W.D. Hammond’s paintings to an Auckland audience. I certainly saw Bill’s Auckland Island paintings for the first time at his gallery. In addition, there was that amazing presentation of Ronnie Van Hout’s embroidered pictures. Another highlight for me was Michael Parekowhai’s wonderful solo show A Capella exhibited during 1994.
Greg was a very special person, a rare and talented man with terrific insights into the creative imagination. He was an advocate of our artists’ achievements with a similarly supportive manner for promoting visual artists that Peter McLeavey has always had in his Wellington gallery.
Greg was adamant, knowledgeable and always assured in his opinions. There was nothing equivocal about his judgment and if he disagreed with you, he was generous enough to explain why. He would not suffer fools either gladly or in any other manner. He was a feisty man and that made conversations with him especially rewarding. His human intensity was as impressive as his love for art.
Greg had faith in his ability to know what was good. I admired his lack of false shyness and respected his trust in collegial frankness. He could tell you that he despised something you had done and then recommend how to do it better. That’s a breathtaking preference for art’s power. He did not feel that he needed to be polite to institutional museum personnel, which was very refreshing.
He understood that evanescent quality which some of us professional curator’s describe as ‘wall power’. We often laughed about ‘wall power’ because he accused me, very warmly, of suffering from an addiction to icons, telling me that I was always both predatory and strategic in gathering them for the gallery. ‘Wall power’, we both believed, had its genesis in the old-fashioned notions of connoisseurship behaviour that the Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures, Sir Anthony Blunt, practiced.
In 1998, I purchased for this museum from Greg Flint’s Gallery, W.D. Hammond’s powerful 1988 drawing For the New You and Bill’s equally unforgettable Head Boneof 1989. Greg not only brought these two exceptional artworks to my attention, he told me exactly why the Gallery must acquire them. He was always lovely to speak to about individual artworks and his gallery’s artists. It was at all times a two-way conversation that focused on the art.
I will miss talking to Greg Flint. He was a remarkable man and an insight-filled believer in art and artists.
Here are the two W.D. Hammond artworks that Greg believed had to always be at Auckland Art Gallery. He brought others to our care and we are so grateful to him.
Captions: W. D. Hammond
Head Bone 1989
acrylic, ink, oil stick, pencil
For the New You 1988