Likeness & Character: Portraits From the Auckland Art Gallery Collection


exhibition Details

One of the highlights of the exhibition is the first display of Tony Fomison's The Ponsonby Madonna.

Most people have photographs of family and friends at home but they may not call them 'portraits'. That term's meanings have expanded since it conveyed sitting quietly on many occasions before an oil painter. Portraits give us visual information about people, what they look like and who they are. They do not need to flatter but they do need to express that someone is observed carefully.

Michael Illingworth's Man and woman figures with still life and flowers of 1971 updates the story of Adam and Eve and places them in a stylish local interior. Humorous imaginative portraits were a speciality of Illingworth and he was a key figure painter for New Zealand of the 1970s.

Tony Fomison's From a photo of Patara Te Tuhi shows the influence that photography has had on portrait painting. The Māori kaumatua is an updated homage to the Goldie and Lindauer portrait tradition. Yvonne Todd's Limpet is a fantastical contemporary portrait where clothes, makeup and adornment become as much a part of the portrait as the figure herself.

Edith Amituanai's Miss Amituanai has already become a classic image of urban Pacific life in its celebration of the family. The interior is not an irrelevant background to the portrait but inseparable from the portrait's meaning. Ben Cauchi's 2005 Self-portrait skilfully honours a traditional photographic technique but updates it into the present.

Curated by
Ron Brownson
New Gallery
Free entry

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