GIMBLETT, Max

Blue/Violet

1981
Acrylic/Polymer On Canvas
1780 x 1270mm

Max Gimblett’s work has been described by Lita Barrie as “an eclectic blend of iconographical motifs and minimalism which represents a novel transition point where reductive modernism joins the votive object.” The genesis of Western abstraction was inextricably tied to ancient spiritual ideas in vogue in Europe at the turn of the century — even though abstraction was later redefined, notably by Clement Greenberg, as a purely formalistic pursuit. Gimblett’s early work, of which this is a significant example, was grounded in the Greenbergian pursuit of aesthetic autonomy (i.e. the work of art does not refer to anything outside itself) in which he explored minimalist chromatic colour. Gimblett was born in Auckland though despite many regular exhibitions here he is usually described as an expatriate painter.

He left for London in 1956 where he worked for the export textile division of Samuel Courtauld & Son, returned in 1958 only to sail for England again in 1959 and travel throughout Europe. In 1962 he moved to Canada where he was apprenticed to a potter in Toronto, Ontario and studied drawing at the Ontario College of Art. In 1965 he attended painting and drawing classes at the San Francisco Art Institute. From 1967–70 Gimblett painted in Bloomington, Indiana and from 1970–1972 in Austin, Texas. In that year he moved to New York City where he still lives. His double allegiance is maintained by frequent visits to New Zealand where he is represented by dealer galleries in Auckland and Wellington. In 1979 Gimblett was appointed Visiting professor of Art at the Pratt Institute of Art and design, Brooklyn, New York.

In 1981 he was represented in the Sarjeant Art Gallery, Wanganui’s travelling exhibition Seven Painters: The Eighties and in 1984 the Auckland City Art Gallery showed Transformation: Recent Paintings by Max Gimblett. In 1991–92 he was both an artist in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation Study and Conference Center, Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy and a J. Paul Getty Associate of the Getty Center for the History of Art and the Humanities, Santa Monica, Los Angeles.