Enamel on wooden construction
510 x 560 x 90mm
Inscriptions: "Relief Construction" 1972 / Don Peebles / wood [verso]
Visiting London in the early 1960s, Don Peebles encountered a number of abstractionists who came to influence him greatly. Chief among them was the British ‘constructionist’ Victor Pasmore, whose work Peebles described as ‘a kick in the guts’. Peebles began to create ‘relief constructions’, echoing Pasmore precedents. Over time, he developed a distinctive form of box-framed relief, marked by experimentation with diverse shaped elements and strong contrasts between passages of painted and unpainted wood. Relief Construction is an exceptionally elegant example, purged of all colour beyond black, white, and, of course, the tone of the timber.
Long recognised as high points in his career, Peebles’ constructions have recently achieved heightened acclaim and popularity thanks in large part to the 2017 exhibition Don Peebles: Relief Constructions at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū. Apropos of the show, Hamish Coney commented, ‘It could be argued that Peebles’ supple constructions surpass Pasmore at his own game.’ Whether or not one agrees with this comment, works like Relief Construction are unquestionably well-resolved—and quite unlike anything being made by other Aotearoa artists at the time.
This work was formerly held in a private collection, Te Whanganui-a-Tara.