Questioning, creating, changing by Alessia Belsito-Riera
Defining what constitutes a New Zealand painting and exploring what it means to live, work, and make art in Aotearoa are recurring pillars in Ian Scott’s oeuvre.
One of our most distinguished and celebrated painters, Scott worked from the mid-1960s until his passing in 2013. Paying homage to the great artist, New Zealand Portrait Gallery Te Pūkenga Whakaata presents Ian Scott: Painting New Zealand, running until the 11th of February and co-curated by his son Chris Corson-Scott and Portrait Gallery director Jaenine Parkinson.
The exhibition presents many previously unseen works, expanding on the perception of his practice and interest in Kiwi painters and paintings.
“While Scott is well known for his bold, hard-edged abstraction, for this exhibition we have deliberately selected figurative artworks to show this other side of his practice,” Parkinson says. “Scott brings together what are normally separate approaches to painting, blending portraiture, landscape, text, reproduction, and abstraction.”
Questioning nationalist narratives that dominated Kiwi artmaking from the 1930s, Scott pushed towards new possibilities, moving towards abstraction, representation, and controversial subjects and themes.
“Scott has been described as one of the forerunners of engagement with international modernism and post-modernism in New Zealand,” Parkinson continues. “In that sense he was a trailblazer in bringing international perspectives to our quite isolated shores. He was attentively aware of the resistance to change and ensuing drama that resulted from an openness to progressive international ideas and the show captures his response to this debate.”