Max Gimblett: The Brush of All Things
One of our most internationally prominent and successful artists, Max Gimblett has lived in New York for over 30 years. Yet, despite his standing, The Brush of All Things is the first public gallery survey of Gimblett's work in New Zealand. Curated by Wystan Curnow, it spans over 25 years of work, representing all the main strands of his practice. That's quite a task, as Gimblett is a prolific artist and his work is extraordinarily broad, stylistically and philosophically.
Gimblett is important. "Max gives New Zealand a foothold in late modernist painting, because locally we don't have anyone who develops directly out of Abstract Expressionism", says Curnow. In the 1970s, alongside other New York painters like Joseph Marioni and Brice Marden, Gimblett was part of a move leading out of Abstract Expressionism towards monochrome painting. But, in the early 1980s, like Marden, Gimblett decided monochrome painting was too limiting, too doctrinaire, and went back to the well of Abstract Expressionism to refurbish and rejuvenate his work. It prompted a major expansion in his practice.
Gimblett's work is rich and inventive. He is known for his technical and stylistic range: the monochrome, geometric abstraction, the calligraphic and figurative expressionism all find a place in the work. He uses novel shaped supports - quatrefoils (a format he has really made his own), circles, rings and ovals. There sometimes appear to be many Gimbletts: one is an extroverted colourist, another pursues the subtle luminous effects of gilded and lacquered surfaces. Gimblett also conjures with a large bag of metaphysical and philosophical ideas, drawing freely on Buddhism, Christianity, classical mythology, alchemy, Jung. His work can be understood in the context of Western Buddhism, a vein of inquiry that fuses aspects of Eastern and Western thought and takes in American artists as diverse as John Cage, James Lee Byars and William Burroughs.
Curnow says: "Max is emotional - the work embodies a mighty spectrum of feeling and he doesn't shy from big themes. Violence, sacrifice and death; fear and awe; beauty, pleasure, peace and joy - all play a role. His works engage both ends of the sublime, the negative (terror, fear and awe) and the positive (beauty and uplift)." The show plays up both poles, juxtaposing works expressing Gimblett's growing devotion to the beautiful with works exposing his dark side, what Jung called The Shadow.
The Brush of All Things will feature a film of Gimblett painting and will be accompanied by a publication featuring writing by Curnow and prominent New York critic Thomas McEvilley.
- New Gallery
- $5 - $7