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Shaped Paintings 2010

“A Thinking Mans Art comes with a mortgage, a black eye and a smile” Steven’s latest exhibition at Warwick Henderson Gallery this month promises to intrigue ...

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“A Thinking Mans Art comes with a mortgage, a black eye and a smile”

Steven’s latest exhibition at Warwick Henderson Gallery this month promises to intrigue, amuse or at least brighten up the audiences day.  Stevens has had an impressive career exhibiting his unique work for over thirty years. Along the way he has built up a solid following of collectors and admirers and his work is housed in public and private collections in New Zealand and overseas.

One of the key elements in the paintings is his witty and creative use of visual and literary puns, at times light hearted and jesting while at other moments offering contemplative reflections on more serious topics. The artist sets up clues whereby the viewer is free to piece together narratives within the work. Using symbols and shapes various objects are depicted and placed on a “stage” to illustrate an event, a moment in time.  Often other NZ artists are referenced in his works such as, Colin McCahon (“Lake Colin”), pursuits such as tennis (Double forehand), musical instruments (“Fourteen String”), Houses (‘Boundary” and “Home”) or the artist himself, usually in a self deprecating way, (“Wound”,” White out”, “The Black eye”) .  Other objects become the source of inspiration in this new exhibition for example coffee pots, hand bags and even butterflies.  There is a story behind every work and usually a subtle message. The rocking horse depicted in “White out” refers to the artist’s mortgage, the analogy is, he is seemingly making no progress on reducing it – going no where.

While the paintings look simple they are painstakingly thought out and executed.  They are also both thought provoking and whimsical at the same time”, says Warwick Henderson who has represented Stevens in NZ for over 15 years.

Steven’s paintings are usually small in scale but have a paired back even sparse feel to them. There are hints of three-dimensional perspective within shapes, a suggestion of a horizon line or references to scale, yet the paintings maintain a shallow pictorial space. Detail is minimal, there is a sense that Stevens is trying to simplify objects down to their most essential forms. Planes of vibrant colour add to the density of the work and this abstraction quickly reminds the viewer that the painting is an enduring object itself and not just a window or a fleeting image to another world.   While the brush strokes and gestures are reduced an aura of strength exudes from the simple detail and shapes.

“Stevens is a true artist dedicated 100% to his career and he has always kept his prices very reasonable to enable all who appreciate his work to be in a position to acquire one” says Henderson.

Born in Dunedin in 1952 Stevens graduated with honours from the Otago School of Art in 1973 and studied at Exeter College of Art, England.

He has exhibited regularly and widely throughout New Zealand since 1979.

In 2007 he had an exhibition at Dunedin Public Art Gallery, ‘A Stage Set for a Poem’ showing twenty paintings in response to the verse of New Zealand poets and the exhibition was accompanied by a book ‘Painted Poems: One Artist: 20 Poets’ (Longacre Press 2007). Stevens was recently included in the book “Inner landscapes” 15 leading South Island artists, published by the Canterbury University Press 2009.  Eion Stevens works as a fulltime artist and lives in the port of Lyttelton, near Christchurch.

If you would like to smile come and view this exhibition. The show opens on the 24th August and continues until the 18th September.

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