We are delighted to present Gavin Hurley's first solo exhibition in the gallery.
In Painting Business, his signature, stylised and historicised world of office men is expanded to include and explore notions around the artist as worker.
Hurley has been working as a professional artist for two decades since graduating from the Elam School of Fine Arts at Auckland University in 1998. With that achievement, he has found himself reflecting on the business of making, and making a living as a self-employed artist: When people ask 'What is your work about?' I still like to say, after these 20 years, that it is mainly about growing up, questioning masculinity and constant fears about getting a "real job".
The paintings, which are all oil on linen with super-flat finishes in a subdued grey and pastel palette, play with the creation of form from collaged cut out shapes, with repetition and scale variations. Distinct themes also repeat across his work.
A new sub-group of paintings with titles beginning with Making ... look at artistic production through the lens of business and labour. We are led to ponder the potentially oppositional binaries of creativity and commerce, calling and career in the artist's working life. In the 'Making' paintings the artist is presented as a suited faceless worker, like so many of the bureaucrats in his office and boardroom paintings. Hurley challenges romantic notions of the struggling artist labouring for love and seemingly questions if cultural workers - who need to pay their bills like everyone else - are any different from other workers? We, the viewers, are left to answer those questions and to ascribe personalities, archetypes even, to the cut-out figures.
Another sub-group of paintings, where the faceless men 'carry' portrait paintings, plays with notions of psychological baggage, status and anxiety. The subjects in the carried and more conventional portraits are recognisable and famous figures from the arts, history and popular culture.
Gavin Hurley's paintings are distinctive, quirky and charismatic. We are looking forward to having them in the gallery.
Press release courtesy Bartley + Company Art.