HomePage Artists

(1919 – 1995), New Zealand

Gordon Walters Biography

In the mid-1960s, Gordon Walters emerged as a unique presence in the modern movement in New Zealand. His works engaging with international modernism in a series of geometric, abstract paintings that positioned the traditional, organic koru form of Māori art within the aesthetics of European and American abstraction.

Read More

Walters had attended the Wellington Technical School of Art, New Zealand (1935-1944), becoming interested in European modernism through reproductions of works by Yves Tanguy and his association with Dutch refugee, Theo Schoon, who introduced Walters to Māori rock art.

Travelling to Europe in 1950, he was exposed to works by Mondrian, as well as the pure abstraction of Victor Vasarely. In the mid fifties he had researched Māori rafter painting and decorative design by visiting museums with fellow artist Theo Schoon and analyzing the forms. Walters modified the fern motif found in Maori meeting houses and traditional Polynesian tattoos, by geometricizing it and alternating positive and negative versions in the manner of the Italian painter Giuseppe Caprogrossi (1900 -1972) but with a horizontal axis. From the mid-1950s his painting utilized this koru form, , responding to its potential for simultaneously defining positive and negative space on the surface of the picture plane.

Using black and white (softened sometimes to grey and cream) Walters’ canvases created a pulsing musicality. When the korus were vertically stacked, an optical shimmer akin to that found in the works of Bridget Riley, occurred. Or when sparely organized, a subtle lyricism was created. Walters also often experimented with muted colour and dramatically enlarged korus, always settling on final composition and scale by adjusting preparatory collages.

In the mid nineteen-eighties Walters abandoned korus and began using austere rectanglar planar compositions that investigated tensions and spatial suggestiveness resulting from transparency, colour, tone and proportion. These were a result of his long interest in the French abstract artist Herbin, the American abstract artist McLaughlin and forms found in Māori cave art.

This much revered figure of New Zealand modernism is represented in all New Zealand’s major collections as well as public collections in Australia. In 1983 the Auckland Art Gallery presented a retrospective.

Gordon Walters Featured Artworks

View All (33)
[Untitled] by Gordon Walters contemporary artwork
Gordon Walters[Untitled], 1976Gouache
Starkwhite Enquire
Application of Destroyed Study by Gordon Walters contemporary artwork
Gordon WaltersApplication of Destroyed Study, 1976Gouache
40 x 30 cm
Starkwhite Enquire
[Untitled] by Gordon Walters contemporary artwork
Gordon Walters[Untitled], 1976Gouache
Starkwhite Enquire
Blue/Green II by Gordon Walters contemporary artwork
Gordon WaltersBlue/Green II, 1955Gouache
31.5 x 19 cm
Starkwhite Enquire
Untitled by Gordon Walters contemporary artwork
Gordon WaltersUntitled, 1992Acrylic on canvas
51 x 41 cm
Starkwhite Enquire
Untitled by Gordon Walters contemporary artwork
Gordon WaltersUntitled, 1990Acrylic on canvas
51 x 41 cm
Starkwhite Enquire

Gordon Walters Recent Exhibitions

View All (5)
Contemporary art exhibition, Gordon Walters, From the Archive at Starkwhite, Auckland
Closed
5–29 February 2020 Gordon Walters From the Archive Starkwhite, AucklandAuckland
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, Black White at Hamish McKay, Wellington
Closed
14 December 2019–25 January 2020 Group Exhibition Black White Hamish McKay, WellingtonWellington
Contemporary art exhibition, Gordon Walters, Gordon Walters at Starkwhite, Auckland
Closed
29 May–16 June 2018 Gordon Walters Starkwhite, AucklandAuckland

Gordon Walters Represented By

Starkwhite contemporary art gallery in Auckland, New Zealand Starkwhite Auckland

Gordon Walters In Ocula Magazine

Auckland Art Exhibitions: The Lowdown Ocula Report Auckland Art Exhibitions: The Lowdown By Anna Dickie, Auckland

The time is ripe to galvanise New Zealand's public to more fully support its visual arts. With New Zealand-born artists like Simon Denny, Michael Stevenson and Francis Upritchard continuing to gain international acclaim, and a Turner Prize nominee in Luke Willis Thompson, the international art world is beginning to take notice of this small...

Fade out copy.
Read More

Be among the first to know when new artworks and exhibitions by Gordon Walters are added to Ocula.

WeChat

Scan the QR Code via WeChat to follow Ocula's official account.

Scan to follow Ocula on WeChat.
;