Tony Fomison

Self portrait

Self portrait by Tony Fomison

Artwork Detail

After graduating from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts, Tony Fomison worked for four years as an archeological assistant surveying Mäori pictographs for the Canterbury Museum. This experience contributed to his view of himself as an excavator of human truths - past and present. He travelled to Europe in 1964 and developed both his knowledge of European art history, and a painstaking system of building up images with layers of very thin paint and coloured glazes. In both his work and his life, Fomison traversed the complicated territory of differences between cultures - of contrasting histories, expectations, identities, and the tensions these can create. Working in Auckland, a city of many cultures with often uneasy connections among Mäori, Pacific Islanders and Päkehä, Fomison viewed painting as a means of discussing these complexities through narrative and mythological stories. This small, haunting self-portrait is one of Fomison's most exhibited works. Outside the window - an actual window frame - puzzled and excluded, the artist peers in at the viewer; it is a poignant image of himself as an outsider, an observer of society. He becomes a furtive voyeur, almost a Peeping Tom. Fomison made many self-portraits and saw them as a means of checking on the integrity of his painting, 'Your brushes are only as good as your self-portraits. Can you be honest about yourself on canvas?'. (from The Guide, 2001)

Self portrait
Tony Fomison
Production date
oil on board
580 x 850 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1978
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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