•  Installation Shots From: Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
    Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
  •  Installation Shots From: Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
    Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
  •  Installation Shots From: Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
    Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
  •  Installation Shots From: Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
    Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
  •  Installation Shots From: Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
    Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America
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Current Exhibitions - Gus Fisher Gallery

A Continuous Line: The Art of Dennis K. Turner

To inaugurate the second decade of his art practice in 1958, Dennis Turner “ventured into the dark interior of the continuous line”, going beyond Paul Klee’s dictum of taking a line for a walk to create a menagerie of over a hundred Horned Beasts – cows, antelope, goats and springboks. Already famous for his 1940s portraits of literary luminaries such as D’Arcy Cresswell and Maurice Duggan, Turner was commissioned by the union movement to celebrate the skilled trades of carpentry, building, transport and engineering in Auckland in a series of mural panels completed in 1948. His image of muscly labourers rallying behind the red flag of Unity represents the apotheosis of the organised labour movement in New Zealand before voluntary unionism decimated the ranks. An exploration of oceanic themes derived from Kai Tahu rock art followed, once Turner had entered the orbit of Theo Schoon and Gordon Walters. Working as a guide in the Waitomo caves in the 1950s, he rambled through the South Waikato, depicting remnant bush and pastoral plenty. Meeting a representative of the publishing house A.H. & A.W. Reed through his work as a blackwater guide, Turner was asked to produce illustrations for Arthur Manning’s startling “study in abnormal psychology”, The Bodgie. His characterisation of the type as a louche lad in sneakers with a Brylcreemed quiff and his hands in his pockets was loosely based on James Dean, and established this look as associated with troublemaking in the popular imagination. The antidote to this urban malaise was a good dose of life in the bush, as portrayed in Barry Crump’s tales of hunting, shooting and fishing. Turner drew A Good Keen Man as rough and ready, booted and bearded, with one hand on a deer’s antlers and the other on his gun. He illustrated the three subsequent books in Crump’s series, before turning to making a book of his own. It was Turner’s experience of the funeral of Princess Te Puea in 1952 that inspired his moving pictorial account published in 1963 as Tangi, where even the attendant fence posts seem to grieve in sympathy with the characters. Sheep shearing and outlines of head shapes full of landscape imagery were his preoccupations in the 1960s. These series were interrupted by a celebration of the rebellious Hone Heke flaunting his tattooed buttocks as he wields the axe in the direction of a flagpole bearing a Union Jack, some of the last works he completed before leaving for Britain in 1964. He returned as the Tylee Cottage Artist in Residence to his hometown of Whanganui in 1992, producing a series of watercolours of tiki. These loop back to his earlier pictorial concerns with indigenous art, forming a line of continuity maintained over six decades and throughout the seventy works in this exhibition.



PUBLIC EVENTS

Saturday 11 January, 1pm
Is advertising art? Peter Alsop, Dick Frizzell and Richard Wolfe will contextualise Dennis K. Turner’s career in relation to the other commercial artists in his book Promoting Prosperity which was produced in 2013.

Saturday 18 January, 1pm
Richard Wolfe gives a guided tour around A Continuous Line, tracing the development of Dennis K. Turner’s style.

Saturday 25 January, 1pm
Rachel Mackintosh, EPMU Director of Organising, will discuss the significance of Dennis K. Turner’s murals for the trade unions that commissioned them with Richard Wolfe.

Saturday 1 February, 1pm
Linda Tyler, Director of Centre for Art Studies, University of Auckland, will discuss the depiction of women in Dennis Turner’s work.

Saturday 8 February, 1pm
Turner’s tiki: a panel discussion of issues around the use of Maori motif in twentieth and twenty-first century New Zealand with Ngahiraka Mason and Dick Frizzell.

Saturday 15 February, 1pm
Associate Professor Caroline Daley, Dean of Graduate Studies, will give an illustrated talk entitled ‘Black Singlets, Bare Chests and Bathing Suits: men’s bodies and fashion’.

Saturday 22 February, 1pm
Devonport writer Kevin Ireland describes the literary landscape of Auckland in the 1950s and 1960s in relation to Dennis K. Turner’s portraits of D’Arcy Cresswell, Eric McCormick and Maurice Duggan.

Saturday 1 March, 1pm
Tracey McIntosh, an expert on religion and the sociology of death and dying, will discuss Dennis K. Turner’s illustrations for Tangi and their significance for Maori.


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