New Zealand lost one of the major figures in its modernist art history with the passing of Don Peebles, one of the pioneers of abstract art in this country, on March 27, 2010. He was a major influence on his own and subsequent generations of New Zealand artists.
Don Peebles is described in the international AKL art dictionary as 'New Zealand's master relief artist. Throughout a career of over 60 years he was at the leading edge of abstract art in New Zealand.
He constantly reinvented himself, bringing a freshness of ideas and form to each artwork. His work may appear of deceptive simplicity, as he juxtaposes texture, harmonises colour and composition to the ultimate point of balance. Nothing in his relief constructions is random. While his work tends towards minimalism, it is only to the point where a sublime tension exists between the elements in the work - a true 'harmony of opposites'.
His ideas often start somewhere in the landscape; it might be the colour of clay or a field, or it might be a man-made structure which creates an interesting effect - suggesting outlines which will translate to an energy within a painting. But his paintings are not intended as interpretations of the landscape; these are just starting points, sparks of inspiration. His paintings explore the tension of balance, opposites and simply painting itself.
They are not easy works to describe, because they are not figurative or representational. They are not works for a quick glance. You have to spend a little time and find your own response to them - as the artist himself said, the question is not 'what does it mean?' but like listening to fine music, 'how does it make you feel?'
Sales of Don Peebles' works are currently suspended since he passed away. Please contact Barbara Speedy directly on email@example.com if you have an interest in any of the works shown.
Don Peebles returned to painting on stretched canvas for the first time in 30 years, in the smaller works exhibited in Images at The Diversion Gallery in April-May 2006.
However, he continued to explore both painterly unstretched hangings, and constructionism - with a beautiful painterly element balanced against a minimalist background, such as the subtle and sophisticated Metro or the intensely worked Moeraki 5. The projecting wooden edges of these works are part of the painting - painted to work with and against the central elements. A Peebles trademark is the small detail which often appears to 'escape' the formal composition.
Not surprisingly, Peebles' work is increasingly sought-after by collectors and investors here and overseas, and is a must in any serious collection of abstract New Zealand art. His work is held in major public and private collections around New Zealand and is an essential ingredient in key surveys of contemporary, modernist or abstract NZ art - yet he is still among the more affordable of NZ's senior artists.
More About the Artist
Born in Taneatua, Bay of Plenty, in 1922, Don Peebles studied fine art in Florence, Italy at the end of WWII; Wellington and Sydney; and was strongly influenced by the constructivism of Victor Pasmore while working in London in the early 1960s.
Don Peebles greatly influenced generations of NZ artists as a highly respected senior lecturer and Reader in Painting at the Canterbury University School of Fine Arts, while continuing his own art practice and quest for the ultimate point of balance in abstraction. He retired from teaching in 1986 to paint full-time, and continued to exhibit regularly throughout New Zealand.
Peebles was the subject of a major and acclaimed retrospective exhibition The Harmony of Opposites, which toured in the 1990s. Peebles has written extensively on the arts, and is himself widely reviewed in leading books on New Zealand contemporary art.
Don Peebles has received several prestigious awards and fellowships, and in 1999 was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the visual arts. The University of Canterbury conferred an Honorary Doctorate on this distinguished artist in 2003.
Please contact us to confirm current prices: most prices are posted at the time of exhibition, and may be revised as the artistsí values increase.