Artwork Detail

Paramount Winner, 1993 Wallace Art Awards

Bronwyn Marwick taught Jeff Brown art at Waimea College in Nelson before becoming his dealer, one of few connections Brown maintained with the New Zealand art scene throughout his career, preferring to stay away from the art mainstream. At Waimea College Brown became familiar with the work of Philip Trusttum and Toss Woollaston, and their approach to art-making. Brown’s work can be compared to Trusttum’s in his use of strong compositions and engaging colours, and combinations of linear and block-colour treatments of form. The subject of his paintings is often ambiguous, though references to building and construction are evident both in the structural compositions and material quality of the work.

These references to construction can be seen in his 1993 winning work Untitled, which is painted in oils on a massive 2.5 metre square galvanised steel surface. The composition gives the impression of an exploded technical drawing of a mechanical object. The central parts sweep down from the top left hand corner of the painting through the centre, and curve back up towards the top right-hand corner of the work. This mechanism has the effect of drawing the viewer’s eye across the picture plane before allowing it to rest on the more detailed aspects of the work. The reference to technical drawing is enhanced by the sharp delineation of shapes, some of which are rendered in silhouette. By contrast, the heavily marked background and roughly ‘smudged’ areas give a gestural, organic quality that adds to the physicality of the work. Reference to indigenous art forms, often present in Brown’s work, can be seen here in the tightly painted spots that fill some of the shapes, evocative of Indigenous Australian paintings.

After exhibiting frequently throughout New Zealand in the 80s and 90s, and in keeping with his artistic inclination towards construction and materials, Brown now co-directs Workshop E, specialising in the construction and delivery of exhibitions and visitor attractions for museums and galleries. In 2000 the James Wallace Arts Trust acquired another of Brown’s works, Work #2, a massive oil painting on plywood and steel currently displayed at Epsom Girls’ Grammar School.

Catalogue text:
Published on the occasion of the Twenty Wallace Art Awards Paramount Winners Exhibition.
14 February to 22 April 2012 at The Pah Homestead, TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre and 2 August to 30 September 2012 at the Wallace Gallery Morrinsville.
oil on metal, diptych
2400 x 2400mm (overall)
Accession number

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