Friday 5 May 2023 

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki today reveals three new art projects by contemporary New Zealand artists:

  • Brent Harris: The Other Side, an exhibition of Melbourne-based New Zealand artist Brent Harris
  • Urbanize III, 2023, a new commission by Tira Walsh (Ngāti Wairere, Ngāti Hauā and Tainui) in the South Atrium
  • Te Toi o Mangahekea, 2023, a large-scale commission by Graham Tipene (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Manu) for the Gallery’s Kia Whakahou Kia Whakaora Heritage Restoration Project

Director Kirsten Lacy says ‘We’re delighted to announce exciting projects by three New Zealand artists. These projects are diverse in nature, exploring art in different media, scales and contexts across our building – from our upper galleries to the windows of our South Atrium and even including the exterior of our building. Each project will resonate and engage visitors, stimulating ideas and evoking a range of emotional responses.’

‘We present the first comprehensive overview of Brent Harris’s work to be held in Aotearoa New Zealand. A well-known painter and printmaker in Australia, whose experiences growing up in Palmerston North and later Auckland have been a potent source of material for his art throughout his life. The exhibition, which has been guest curated by Jane Devery, includes recent works that reflect the influence of Colin McCahon on his work, as well as a variety of other significant works that explore universal concerns of mortality, identity, and spirituality.’

Jane Devery says ‘I’m delighted to have been invited to curate this survey exhibition for the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Brent Harris is a brilliant artist whose works raise fundamental questions about what it means to be human. His deeply resonant paintings and works on paper deserve wider attention in Aotearoa and I’m certain that they will captivate audiences here.’

Brent Harris says ‘This is such a great opportunity to present an overview of my career to date, to audiences in Aotearoa New Zealand. This exhibition is a very personal one for me, highlighting the impact that my New Zealand upbringing has had on my work. I hope there are obvious signposts throughout the exhibition that point to this.’

Lacy says, ‘In our South Atrium we recently launched a new commission, Tira Walsh’s striking Urbanize III, 2023 which combines her experience of rural and urban landscapes into a singular scene rendered at an architectural scale.’

‘As part of the Gallery’s Kia Whakahou Kia Whakaora Heritage Restoration Project, we will present a new commission by Graham Tipene on the exterior of the building. The artwork will adorn the shrink wrap that covers the historic facade and honours the Gallery’s site and heritage. Tipene’s design draws on the element of water for inspiration and acknowledges it as a force and resource integral to life.’

Brent Harris: The Other Side

6 May 2023 – 17 September 2023

<p><strong>Brent Harris</strong>,<em> Peaks (In Praise of Hands)</em>, 2019. On loan from a private collection, Auckland, &copy; the artist</p>

Brent Harris, Peaks (In Praise of Hands), 2019. On loan from a private collection, Auckland, © the artist

Brent Harris creates haunting imagery that is often charged with an emotional intensity. Over a career of more than 40 years, Harris has developed a significant body of work that addresses universal concerns such as desire, sexuality, familial relationships, mortality, identity, and spirituality.

Born in Palmerston North, Aotearoa New Zealand in 1956, Harris moved to Melbourne in 1981 to study at the Victorian College of the Arts and he has lived there ever since. In 2016, following the death of his father, he felt able to return to his country of birth after an absence of several decades. It was an episode in his life that resulted in an intense period of artistic production.

Brent Harris: The Other Side, guest curated by Jane Devery, is the first major survey exhibition of the artist’s work to be held in Aotearoa New Zealand. The exhibition comprises over 40 paintings and drawings selected from Harris’s most important series dating from the late 1980s to the present. It includes recent paintings that reflect the artist’s reconnection with Aotearoa as well as works that pay homage to local artists Colin McCahon and Gordon Walters.

Brent Harris: The Other Side is supported by the Auckland Art Gallery Foundation.

New commission – Tira Walsh: Urbanize III, 2023

On now

Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland-based artist Tira Walsh (Ngāti Wairere, Ngāti Hauā and Tainui) presents Urbanize III, 2023, a vibrant digital vinyl print inspired by her residency at Karekare House and the sci-fi classic film, Tron (1982).

In 2022 Walsh completed the artist residency programme at Karekare House, which is situated in the Waitākere Ranges. The experience was inspirational – in Urbanize III Walsh returns with her vibrant palette combining her rural and urban landscape experiences into a singular scene rendered at an architectural scale in vivid technicolour.

Presented in the Gallery’s South Atrium, Urbanize III is Walsh’s largest commissioned work to date and appears as if it has emerged from the streets and ridges of Tāmaki Makaurau. 

‘I hope to give the viewer’s retina a jolt, aiming to maintain a sense of rawness in [the work’s] making,’ says Walsh. Urbanize III is generously funded by Auckland Contemporary Arts Trust.

New commission – Graham Tipene: Te Toi o Mangahekea, 2023

This month, tā moko artist Graham Tipene (Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Kahu, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Hauā, Ngāti Manu) will present a new work Te Toi o Mangahekea that will adorn the scaffolding on the Gallery’s heritage building as it undergoes important preservation work.

Commissioned for the Gallery’s Kia Whakahou Kia Whakaora (to restore, to heal) Heritage Restoration Project, Te Toi o Mangahekea draws on water for inspiration, acknowledging how integral it is to all life as well as the many wai, or waters, of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

The six takarangi or interlocking spiral designs speak to the cyclical life of water, from sky to lake, to river, to sea, to sky. Tipene explains that they ‘represent male and female; Ranginui and Papatūānuku; the Waitematā and the Manukau, the two harbours surrounding the Gallery; and finally, east and west, the coastal waters, thereby covering the whole motu’.

Find out more about the Gallery’s Kia Whakahou Kia Whakaora Heritage Restoration Project here.