Geoff Thornley

Nigresco/Albus no. 4

Nigresco/Albus no. 4 by Geoff Thornley

Artwork Detail

Geoff Thornley's Albus series is a tightly focused body of work. A gesso ground on heavy Steinbach paper is stained, sponged and brushed to add and remove watercolour inks. An underlying grid structures the turbulence of chalky whites and dark greys and a controlled blizzard of every tone and textural effect in between. The dialectical tension between opposing elements has been a constant theme in Thornley's art. It is no surprise that he turns to Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy to articulate his thinking about abstraction; Nietzsche's discussion of the chaotic, instinctual, Dionysian drives pitched against the Apollonian world of formal order mirrors Thornley's sense of the conflictive dramas that beset abstract painting. These same issues of form and structure are taken up in the Constructions between 1977 and 1986. The Constructions, which included trapezoidal paintings and the Tondos, replaced the atmospherics of the Albus works with an emphasis on compression, concentration of physical parts and dense colour. Though the diagonals and some of the idiosyncratic colour chords would have looked deviant to Mondrian, in his Constructions Thornley performs what Mondrian called a 'counter-striving' of one element against the 'tensing' of another. The paintings over the last few years are dominated by a sense of deep assuagement, of infolded affective content and expansive openness; the drive for order has won out over the rage for chaos. (from The Guide, 2001)

Nigresco/Albus no. 4
Geoff Thornley
Production date
mixed media, paper on canvas
1130 x 1130 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1975
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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