Buying History: Paintings by Robert McLeod
1-23 February 2013
“It’s all driven by McLeod’s belief that to remain relevant painting needs to push its own conventions and boundaries, that it can no longer sit quietly and reverentially on the wall. [Buying History] predominately draws from the last two decades of McLeod’s practice. It also makes forays into earlier work to show that despite the apparent huge shifts in his practice, McLeod has remained loyal to core principles around the role and purpose of painting in the contemporary world.”
Aaron Lister, curator at Wellington's City Gallery describes McLeod's work as having a ‘riotous exuberance’ and notes that the paintings have rejected their modernist origins. The paintings are driven instead by a need to acquire new forms and energies, coming out of the frame and off the wall to invade the physical and psychological spaces of the viewer. McLeod arrived in Wellington in 1972 after graduating with a Diploma of Art, Drawing and Painting in 1969 at the Glasgow School of Art. Inspired by the abstraction of Alan Davie and Willem de Kooning, McLeod rebelled against the system in Glasgow and landed in Wellington brandishing a form of international modernism. He enjoyed success in the Wellington art scene as evidenced by purchases of his work in the Te Papa Tongarewa collection during the 1970s.
However after “a couple of sell out shows I decided I didn’t want to get pinned down by that type of painting. I much preferred to operate on the fringes. I wasn’t ready for early success and rejected it, becoming an outsider in both places - Scotland and New Zealand. But I found an easy fit into an alternative tradition here”.
Now, after spending decades working through various processes and painterly formats, Lister says, “McLeod has arrived at something totally unique, painting that’s riotous and over the top yet deadly serious. He’s developed an approach to painting that’s totally invested in the history of the medium, at times turns to traditional techniques and even subjects, but pushes these things much further than a lot of people think they should go. And its not over. For McLeod the push, the fight, the game is what’s at stake every time he picks up a brush.”
PAULNACHE has represented Scottish-born, Wellington-based painter Robert McLeod since 2005 and this will be the artists 4th solo show with the Gisborne gallery.