Mitimiti, Northland, Aotearoa New Zealand 1931 – Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand 2013
not titled [abstract painting by Ralph Hotere]
London, Greater London, England
Materials & Technique: paintings, paint; paper synthetic polymer paint on paper Support: thick smooth green wove paper
Hone Papita Raukura (Ralph) Hotere, one of New Zealand’s most significant modern artists and born of Maori heritage, brought a refined lyricism to his abstract vernacular. An early example is the recent gift of a large-scale 1963 painting on paper, a work that communicates the artist’s fundamental concern: the relationship between nature and the built environment. This seminal work in Hotere’s distinctive style was painted in London, where he resided from 1961 to 1965, having received a fellowship—the last to be awarded by the Association of New Zealand Art Societies—to attend the Central School of Art and Design.
A year prior to creating the work, Hotere undertook studies in residence at the Michael Karolyi Memorial Foundation in Vence, France. Influences from this period inform the work, particularly the fluidity of Henri Matisse’s abstract forms and the artist’s own bullet-hole motif from his 1962 series Algeria (a response to Algeria’s fight for independence from French colonial rule).
The work is most probably Hotere’s recollection of the wide-open spaces of New Zealand. Having qualified as a pilot as part of his military service in 1953, he was familiar with the abstracted wonders afforded by an aerial view. Earth tones render a seemingly spontaneous arrangement of abstracted forms. These forms respond rhythmically to one another as a poetic arrangement of disparate yet harmonious parts.
At the end of 2011, not long before his death in February 2013, Hotere was awarded membership to the Order of New Zealand in recognition of his lifetime of contributions to the visual arts.
This significant early work was given to the Gallery by Dr Wallace and Janet Ambrose, who had received it from Hotere. They first met the artist in Auckland in the early 1960s and became close friends with him. They built
their Canberra home to accommodate the painting. So, to share this greatly loved painting with the nation demonstrates the altruistic nature of these two important benefactors.
Mary Angove, Gordon Darling Graduate Intern
in artonview, issue 82, Winter 2015