Walters, Gordon
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Gordon Walters was an important figure in the New Zealand modernist movement, known for creating a key moment in this country’s art practice through his large configurations of stylised koru forms, eloquently locating European-inspired geometric abstraction within Aotearoa New Zealand.

This work is one of 12 ‘Barry Lett multiples’ published in 1968 by Auckland gallerist Barry Lett. Wellington City Council owns the complete set. Artists are: Don Binney, Colin McCahon, Robert Ellis, Ralph Hotere, Michael Illingworth, Ross Ritchie, Michael Smither, Milan Mkusich, Toss Woollaston, Patrick Lucas, and Mervyn Williams.

The first of Walter’s well-known modernist abstract-style studies of the koru was created in 1956 and formed the basis of his life’s work. For Māori, the koru, an unfurling fern, symbolises new life and has a special place in traditional and contemporary practice. Its use by non-Māori artists has been hotly debated.

Gordon Walters (born 1919, Wellington, died 1995, Christchurch) studied at Wellington Technical College from 1936-44 and taught there part-time in 1945. Walters travelled to Australia in 1946, and later visited Māori rock art sites in South Canterbury with artist Theo Schoon, the impetus of his use of Māori cultural themes. From 1950-53 Walters lived in Europe, becoming influenced by Mondrian and other modernist artists. Returning to New Zealand, Walters fused abstract modernism with traditional Māori art. He started painting full-time in 1966 and showed his ground-breaking work at Auckland’s New Vision Gallery. Walters exhibited works from the koru series through the 1970s-80s, with a major, nationally-touring retrospective exhibition at Auckland Art Gallery in 1983.
Silk-screen print, 2 colours
Frame: hxwxd; 825 x 710 x 35mm
Breadth 35mm
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