The Belle Époque Project by Brendan  McGorry

Frances at the Follies Bergere, 2014, Acrylic and charcoal on canvas, 1500mm x 1200mm

The Belle Époque Project

Brendan McGorry

24 September to 18 October 2014


As part of ArtWeek Auckland, Brendan will giving at artist talk in the gallery at 6pm on Wednesday 15 October.

Please join us as Brendan talks about The Belle Epoque Project and admire the beautiful site-specific work that has taken over the gallery space. Read more here.

Primarily self-taught, Brendan McGorry engages with references and allegories drawn from historical European paintings, which he intertwines with his own personal genealogy to reflect upon biological and social evolution. While earlier works have often been informed by the Italian masters of the Renaissance, The Belle Époque Project visits an alternative point in art history: the flourishing Parisian art of the Impressionist movement.

In this ambitious exhibition McGorry fuses the works of painters like Caillebotte, Manet, Renoir and van Gogh with musings on his own recent time in Paris, where he stayed in the renowned Haussmann apartments. Weaving familiar historical motifs with contemporary images of everyday life, the past and present collide in dreamlike compositions across his canvases.

Like his previous installations Holy of Holies (2012) and God’s Little Laundrette (2011), the foundation of The Belle Époque Project is a vast mural, which McGorry has inscribed directly on the gallery walls. With illustrative elements plucked from art history, the gallery becomes a 19th century French interior with views outwards over the streets of Paris. This depicted space accommodates McGorry’s paintings, which either act as objects within the mural's overall composition or – with the larger pieces – become paintings within painting; canvases adorning the interior’s ‘walls.’

In these meta-paintings iconic Impressionist works have been recreated by the artist; mimicking the compositions but reworking each in his distinctive drawing-based style, with forms defined by charcoal outlines and flat, vivid colour. The artist also introduces incongruous contemporary elements that firmly anchor the works in the present, while irrefutably indicating the past; the viewer is simultaneously aware of McGorry’s version and the original works he references.

Brendan McGorry has been a finalist in several national competitions including the Waikato Society of Art NZ Painting and Printmaking, Anthony Harper Contemporary Art Award, and Wallace Art Awards.



Born: Auckland

Lives: Auckland

Awards/Distinctions: The Wallace Art Awards – Finalist (2008-2014, 1992–1999); Molly Morpeth Canaday Award – Merit Award (2014); Molly Morpeth Canaday Award – Finalist (2011); Estuary Artworks Award – Paramount Award (2010); Field Days Number 8 Wire Art Award – 2nd Prize (2009); Waikato Society of Art NZ Painting and Printmaking Award – Finalist (2009); National Drawing Award, Artspace and The Physics Room – Finalist (2008); North Shore City Art Award, Mairangi Arts Centre – Finalist (2008); Walker and Hall Waiheke Art Award, Waiheke Community Art Gallery – Finalist (2008); Anthony Harper Contemporary Art Award, COCA, Christchurch – Finalist (2008); Adam Portraiture Award, New Zealand Portrait Gallery – Finalist (2008)

Collections: James Wallace Arts Trust, Auckland; Auckland City Council

Public Exhibitions: Male Nudes, Pah Homestead, TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre, Auckland (2013); Portrait Painting, Pah Homestead, TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre, Auckland (2012); NZ Sculpture OnShore, North Shore City (2012, 2010); Auckland Arts Festival (2011); Gods Little Laundertte, Pah Homestead, TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre, Auckland (2011); Works on Paper, Uxbridge Creative Centre (2011); Through the looking glass, Uxbridge Creative Centre (2011);Skins,Outdoor Billboard Project, Auckland (2009); Lopdell House Gallery, Auckland (1990)

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