b. 1954, New Zealand
Lives in Wellington
The work of Maori artist John Walsh has been described as “surreal images of intriguing figures…a cast of creatures who look only part human appear in transit between this world and the next. Their means of transport is a floating futuristic helix with underworld tones while the characters… play out the dramas of life, love and lore.” (Ngahiraka Mason, Purangiaho: Seeing Clearly, exhibition catalogue, Auckland Art Gallery, 2001, p.35)
Born in Tolaga Bay in New Zealand’s North Island, John Walsh spent much of his early days in the Gisborne region before travelling to Christchurch where he attended Ilam School of Fine Arts at Canterbury University between 1973 and 1974. He later returned to the East Coast where he specialised in portraiture. From the mid 70’s he worked on Marae restoration and related art projects before taking up teaching and curatorial positions.
Walsh incorporates traditional Maori legends such is the case in Orokohanga – Genesis of 2002 (exhibited Pataka Art Museum, Porirua and John Leech Gallery, Auckland) which as a series of nine works tell the Maori story of creation. Ranginui (sky father), Papatuanuka (earth mother), Hine Titama (goddess of the dawn) – all are characters in the rich tapestry of Walsh’s oeuvre. Rather than depicting the characters as part of legends past, Walsh creates an ethereal mood and a sense of timelessness.
To truly understand his work, an understanding of the Maori culture is needed. Yet these works are beautiful and consequentially the viewer is drawn into them - learning the stories, learning the culture while enjoying the artwork itself. These are works that encourage and inspire.
Walsh works with oil on both canvas and board with the results often very different. Works on board have a lushness and immediacy while works on canvas have more of a warmth and gentle beauty. Colours are rich yet restrained.
In the past few years, Walsh has quickly gained a reputation as an artist to watch. He has been included in significant curated exhibitions in recent years such as Purangiaho – Seeing Clearly at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, 2001 and Parihaka – the Art of Passive Resistance at the City Gallery, Wellington, 2001. Works in collections include Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Wallace Arts Trust and the Tjibaou Cultural Centre, Noumea.
Gow Langsford Gallery has represented John Walsh since 2001.
Download full Curriculum Vitae
2017 Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland
2016 Matakite, Pataka Art + Museum, Porirua City
2015 Gallipoli, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland
2013 John Walsh, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland
2012 I Can't Stop Loving You, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland
2009 New Paintings, John Leech Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
Flying Solo - Paintings by John Walsh, James Wallace Arts Trust Gallery, TheNewDowse, Lower Hutt
2008 Thoughts on Antarctica, Janne Land Art Gallery, Wellington
2007 John Walsh, John Leech Gallery, Auckland
2006 Storyboard for a New Zealand Movie, John Leech Gallery, Auckland
2005 John Walsh, John Leech Gallery, Auckland
2004 John Walsh, John Leech Gallery, Auckland
2003 John Walsh, Gow Langsford Gallery, Sydney
2002 Orokohanga - Genesis, Pataka, Porirua and John Leech Gallery, Auckland
2001 New Works, Janne Land Gallery, Wellington and John Leech Gallery, Auckland
Recent works, Verve Café gallery, 121 Gladstone Rd, Gisborne
2000 New Works & Nanny Mango originals, Archill Gallery, Auckland