You must first login or register to follow this artist.
HomePage Artists

b. 1935, New Zealand

Max Gimblett Biography

As one of New Zealand's most colourful expatriates, Max Gimblett holds a unique place in contemporary New Zealand art. He was born in 1935 in Auckland and moved to North America in his late 20s, first studying drawing at Ontario College of Art (1964) and then painting at the San Francisco Art Institute (1965). Based in New York since 1972, he visits and works in Auckland regularly. Gimblett is best known for his gestural paintings and quatrefoil canvases that combine various Eastern and Western sources as a way of expressing spirituality.

Read More

Gimblett's gestural paintings stem from his profound interest in Japanese religious beliefs and calligraphy. Kenneth Patchen (1911–1972), the American poet whose Zen ink drawings Gimblett first encountered in 1966, was particularly influential on Gimblett's nascent ink-based works. An ordained Rinzai Zen Buddhist himself, Gimblett's work cites Zen principles of reconciling opposites, as manifested in the juxtaposition of calligraphic lines with a geometric canvas. His process of painting—during which he engages his entire body in the work while shouting or pausing to clap—also borrows the idea of Mind from Zen Buddhism. Described as 'ALL MIND NO MIND' by the artist, the approach attempts to suppress the mind from rationalising during the act of painting.

At the same time, however, Gimblett also identifies himself as a Modernist. His bold gestures evoke Willem de Kooning as much as they do Japanese calligraphy. Wassily Kandinsky's vision of Modernism, which emphasises the link between painting and spirituality and communal values, has long been integral to Gimblett's practice. He considers art not as a commodity but as a potent agent in service of the community, remarking in a 2014 interview with Ocula Magazine that 'Art stands for the truth and feeds people with spirit.'

A defining characteristic of Gimblett's work is his use of geometric shapes as supports. Produced since the 1980s, his quatrefoil canvases deny the notion of the canvas as a window, presenting them as spiritually charged fields. Gimblett views the quatrefoil as 'a symbol of wholeness', standing for the most sacred in both Eastern and Western religions. The tondo is equally popular in his oeuvre, and he exhibited a series of gestural paintings on circular canvases as part of group exhibition Full Circle (2013–14) at Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland.

Gimblett's use of precious metals further affirms his interest in symbolic materials referencing spiritual beliefs. Gold and silver are historically associated with light, vitality, wisdom and enlightenment. Applied as gestural marks or over the whole of the canvas, the metals not only allow for bold colours but also create highly reflective surfaces.

Since his first solo exhibition in 1971 at A Clean Well Lighted Place in Austin, Texas, Gimblett has exhibited widely in the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. In 2004, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki organised The Brush of All Things—a major survey exhibition including numerous Gimblett works from private and public collections. Four years later, he was part of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum's group exhibition The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860–1989. His work is in the permanent collection of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki; Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Gimblett was appointed as Honorary Visiting Professor to the National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries at the University of Auckland in 2005.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2017

Max Gimblett Featured Artworks

St. George & the Dragon, by Max Gimblett contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, sculpture
Max GimblettSt. George & the Dragon,, 2021Acrylic, resin, water-based size, and 18kt lemon gold leaf on canvas
15 x 15 inches
Page Galleries Contact Gallery
Labyrinth by Max Gimblett contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Max GimblettLabyrinth, 2019–2021Acrylic, resin, water-based size, platin white gold leaf on canvas
30 x 22 inches
Page Galleries Contact Gallery
The Ground Being by Max Gimblett contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Max GimblettThe Ground Being, 2021Acrylic, water-based size and 23.75kt Rosanoble gold leaf on canvas
30 x 40 inches
Page Galleries Contact Gallery
The Promised Land by Max Gimblett contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Max GimblettThe Promised Land, 2021Acrylic, water-based size and 22kt gold leaf on canvas
40 x 30 inches
Page Galleries Contact Gallery
Strings of God by Max Gimblett contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Max GimblettStrings of God, 2020–2021Acrylic, water-based size and 22kt gold leaf on canvas
30 x 22 inches
Page Galleries Contact Gallery
Rainbow Delight by Max Gimblett contemporary artwork painting, works on paper
Max GimblettRainbow Delight, 2021Acrylic, resin, water-based size and 23kt Rosanoble gold leaf on canvas
70 x 50 inches
Page Galleries Contact Gallery
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall by Max Gimblett contemporary artwork painting, works on paper, sculpture
Max GimblettMirror, Mirror on the Wall, 2020Gesso, acrylic, resin, size and precious metal leaf on canvas
50 x 50 inches
Page Galleries Contact Gallery
Sunflower by Max Gimblett contemporary artwork painting
Max GimblettSunflower, 2020Gesso, acrylic, resin, size and precious metal leaf on canvas
22 x 30 inches
Page Galleries Contact Gallery

Max Gimblett Recent Exhibitions

View All (7)

Max Gimblett In Ocula Magazine

Max Gimblett In Related Press

Be among the first to know when new artworks and exhibitions by Max Gimblett are added to Ocula.
Sign Up