Saskia Leek


Untitled by Saskia Leek

Artwork Detail

In this painting Saskia Leek considers the traditions of cubist still life through the lens of the twenty first century. Leek has developed her understanding of painting through an engagement with second hand culture - mostly reproductions in collected magazines and books, and through junk shop paintings. She is interested in how imagery and objects transform either through their popularisation or altered context. In returning to Cubism in this painting, she attends to one of the turning points of the twentieth-century avant-garde, through the lens of naïve twenty-first-century adaptation. However, rather than settle as a work of naïve art, Leek attempts to take seriously the lessons of cubism and its formal challenges. This painting adopts the Cubist technique of refraction, but use a palette more aligned to its dissemination in interior decorating of the 1950s. It is a highly complex construction, and curious because of its 'in-between' status, as neither entirely of the past nor the present.

Leek showed mostly in artist run spaces through the early 1990s until Hangover, a major group exhibition in 1995, which foregrounded her work among a new generation of artists. According to the co-curator Robert Leonard, the exhibition was about a generation of New Zealand artists making critical use of "things past their use by date". Leek's reputation got somewhat fixed during this period as a painter of teenage and retro-culture. However, over the last few years Leek has explored and drawn upon her interest in the history of painting, which led her in very interesting directions. In particular, she has begun to explore a more varied colour palette, a complex formal composition, and refracted picture plane, all of which relate and relive her interest in second hand culture.

Saskia Leek
Production date
oil on board
302 x 380 x 30 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the ART50 Contemporary Art Trust, 2009
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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