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Mervyn Williams: 20 years of painted illusion


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Catalogue text for Mervyn Williams exhibition at Artis Gallery, Parnell, Auckland, 17 November - 11 December 2010. The paintings in this exhibition all date from after 1990. It was then that Williams began the unusual process of welding "Old Master" or Renaissance painting techniques onto modernist abstraction. We know that painters of the High Renaissance developed and refined the art of "chiaroscuro", creating an illusion of three-dimensional reality on a two-dimensional surface by means of transitions and contrasts of light and dark. And we know that modernism, by the time it had bloomed into American colour-field abstraction of the 1950s and 1960s, had purged such techniques from its repertoire, the illusion of three-dimensionality being an unnecessary disguise for the reality of the painting as a two-dimensional surface covered with paint. In Williams’ paintings, we sense extrinsic textures and feelings, yet we remain riveted by the intrinsic qualities of painting itself – its flatness and materiality, represented here by elemental forms and a saturated field of radiant colour.

Text of this catalogue available on Artis Gallery website:

Item Type: Monograph (Other)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Contemporary New Zealand art, abstraction, modernism, illusion
Subjects: N Fine Arts > ND Painting
Divisions: Schools > School of Media Arts
Depositing User: Edward Hanfling
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2012 06:04
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 02:37

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