Selected works from the 1990s
Michael Lett is pleased to present a selection of significant works by Julian Dashper from the 1990s. Departing from his ‘expressionist’ works of the 1980s, this period saw the artist toy with the very operations of painting, exploring abstraction, geometric forms, repetition, and reproducibility. Previously exhibited in prominent institutional exhibitions across the globe, each work is a playful experiment in what painting can do.
Art historian and curator Christina Barton observed Dashper’s “acknowledgement of art-making as a process. He thus made canvases which were creased or not completely stretched, to assert the work’s physicality as nothing more than paint, cloth and wood. Foregrounding the practical facts of painting (at the expense of their formal or expressive meanings), Dashper was then able to explore the business of art-making as a function of the work, replacing the original painting with the paraphernalia of its use, to draw attention to the infrastructures within which the artist works.”
Curator Robert Leonard has described Julian Dashper as a “self-consciously art-historical artist” whose works were “always in dialogue with other artists and art history.” This was true across Dashper’s entire career, spanning the expressionist paintings that drew attention to him in the 1980s, to the myriad interventions in print and physical spaces that pit the artist in conversation with New Zealand’s art history—and with the rest of the world.
“I am also fond of telling people that I consider minimalism to be a verb of sorts. Not a noun. Not really an adjective either. More of a verb. A doing word… A word that expresses the idea of an action. The idea of minimalism.”
“All my ideas just come to me. They simply fall out of the sky, usually when I am in the shower. They kind of just happen. It’s all very spontaneous. The trick is to start ‘in the zone’ when you get the idea and run with it.”
Barton reflects: “Paralleling this persistent reiteration of painting’s blunt materiality, Dashper began to use, and has deployed consistently since, photography, as a means to further distance himself from the handmade, and to highlight the means by which art is most successfully and pervasively circulated. He uses reproductive technologies to problematize the relationship between an original and its copy, and to confuse the distinction between documentary adjunct and independent work of art.”
“My art evokes dialogue, particularly dialogue about painting. But I would like to expand on this point through my attitude to colour. My work deals with a lot of aspects of it – like the ideal of spirituality and the formality of colour. I have a lot of theories about colour that can basically be understood as anti-theories.”
Julian Dashper (b. Auckland, 1960) graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Auckland in 1982 and has exhibited widely at a domestic and international level. His work was included in After McCahon: Some Configurations in Recent Art, Auckland City Art Gallery (1989); Headlands: Thinking Through New Zealand Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia, Sydney (1992); and Stop Making Sense, City Gallery, Wellington (1995). Significant solo exhibitions include The Big Bang Theory, Artspace, Auckland (1993); The Twist, Dunedin Public Art Gallery (1999); and Midwestern Unlike You and Me: New Zealand’s Julian Dashper, Sioux City Art Centre (2005). His work has been the subject of a number of major New Zealand retrospectives, including Julian Dashper & Friends, City Gallery, Wellington (2015); and Julian Dashper: Professional Practice, Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland (2010). In 2001 he was awarded a Senior Fulbright Scholarship to visit the University of Nebraska and Chinati Foundation in Marfa as an artist-in-residence. Julian Dashper died in Auckland on 30 July 2009.