10 June – 22 June

John Tarlton

John Tarlton first exhibited his art in New Zealand in the heady Auckland art scene of the mid-seventies. Since then he has had numerous one man fine art shows in New Zealand, Australia and the United States, as well as pursuing many years of active practice as a lecturer, academic, and art educator.


His work is represented in several private collections and the public collections of Te Papa, Auckland City Art Gallery, Rotorua City Art Gallery, Waikato Museum of History and Art, Te Manawa (Museum of Art Science History, Palmerston North), University of Auckland, and the State University of New York at Albany.


A California-born New Zealander, John received degrees in fine art at the undergraduate and graduate levels from the State University of New York at Albany, and also studied for a year with Rudi Gopas, William Sutton and Philip Trusttum at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts (Ilam) in 1972. In addition, he holds a PhD in Vocational Art Education from Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.


Tarlton has always intentionally flown somewhat under the radar. To date, he remains what the New Zealand writer Kevin Ireland described in a Listener review as an artist who:


"...has resisted identification with art movements or groups that might have endorsed his reputation... He is very much an individualist-- a virtuoso draftsman, a player of visual games and a wit..."

(N.Z. Listener, April 29, 1991).


As noted, his paintings and prints have always fit outside the norm of traditional figurative and landscape motifs found in much of New Zealand painting. Instead, the preference here is to present works which are mainly witty and sometimes irreverent engagements-- personal discourses and visual narratives which probe both the individual and the universal on aspects of the human condition.


In other words, the works can be seen as playful and amusing puzzles; disparate clues and cues presented to fancifully define the moods, manners, points-of-view and preoccupations of our personal and communal lived worlds, social concepts and constructs, and presuppositions. They promote the possibility for viewer alternative reflection of past and present events, celebrity, relationships, life, love, history, culture, cuisine, politics, or any number of other subjects Tarlton decides to dissect.


While overall the tenor of the paintings and prints are both humorous and intellectual, themes run a gauntlet anywhere from stony-faced and reflective historicity, to dead pan, tongue-in-cheek satire, and text analogues. Throughout the works humour, pun, and satire (suggested by the use of combinations of concordant or contradictory imagery, collage, and texts) are used to titillate the viewer's reading.


These days Tarlton primarily works on paper, using a full spectrum of media that includes watercolour, acrylic, gouache, ink, pencil and collage. The surfaces move seamlessly from passages of realistically rendered subjects, to areas of action painting and elements of collage. Compositions seem effortlessly balanced, as are the carefully thought out and engaging interplays of positive and negative space.


This exhibition provides the public a rare opportunity to observe this individual and unique voice within contemporary New Zealand fine art. 

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