Rhondda Grieg said of Alan Pearson in 1991, “This is a painter who all his life has engaged in an ardent conversation with himself…and the universe in all its manifestations. It is rare indeed in New Zealand, the extent to which the directly physical energy of the man impregnates the painterly physiognomy of his work.”
Seventeen years later, this comment is still true of Alan Pearson the person, and more importantly remains a succinct summary of the work in Metaphors 1987 - 1990. The exhibition showcases some of the most significant works of art by a contemporary New Zealand artist to appear on the art market for the last several decades. Many of which have never been shown publicly before.
Alan Pearson is one of New Zealand’s greatest Neo-Expressionists. As a full time artist for forty years with significant representation in major public collections around the country, his importance to New Zealand art and art history cannot be overstated. As Grieg points out, it is impossible to talk about Pearson’s art without talking about the man himself, so stridently does his work reflect personal truths, philosophies and values.
Significant large scale works, such as Music Makers I, Canterbury (1989) form the backbone of the exhibition and are exuberant expressions of both the man and the artist. However, typically all works in the show embody Pearson’s great sense of the poetic in their lyrical forms, bold yet compact gesture and rhythmical intonations.
Pearson is a master of the beautiful paradox, representing at once an intensely personal vision while hinting at the universal forces which drive all mankind. In the Introduction to Denys Trussell’s Alan Pearson: His Life and Art, T.P. Garrity aptly sums up the man and the work, “It is the comedy of things that he so ably celebrates on our behalf - comedy which…absorbs the tragedy to which it is prior. His vision is essentially one of profound universal optimism; and for the inveterate gallery-goer, rooms full of Pearsons can be a relief, like hitting the tar seal after having driven for hours on shingle.”
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