1993
Acrylic housepaint on wooden doors
1960 x 810mm each panel

Auckland artist Richard Thompson believes that there is no truth in the statement that all there is to be said about Abstract Minimalism has been said. Like all minimalist art his is hardly rich in meanings; it denies all involvement with layered implications that the viewer may search for and discover slowly as the result of gradual acquaintance. Instead of seeking to be original Thompson assumes that abstract painting is a given whose formats and compositions were arrived at by others, the classic abstract minimalists of the 1970s. As if to distance himself from heroic modernism with its immaculate surfaces and high seriousness of purpose Thompson here uses second hand doors to paint on with reject paint samples from Levene.

He takes the mystery out of his predecessors’ rhetorics of psychic depth and spiritual introspection. He treats them as merely histrionic, enlivening their colour to the point of garishness and shamelessly borrowing their compositions only to question the very notion of authenticity. Instead of seeking a transcendence through bleaching all meaning out of painting, artists like Thompson are ironic about such a grand quest. Their work encourages not in-depth interpretation but rather disdain and even indifference. Yet what Allan Smith calls his “urbane decorum and cultivation of the cliches of abstraction” does not detract from the fact that his compositions are as elegant as those he reacts against and his colours as immediately engaging.

The Fletcher Trust Collection is one of the largest curated private collections of Aotearoa New Zealand art. The Trust makes works available to the public online as well as via exhibitions initiated by public art institutions and by the Trust itself.

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