Artist talk | Saturday 22 July – 1 pm
Exhibitions of new paintings by Michael Shepherd are infrequent but much anticipated. Across a remarkable career, now encompassing half a century, he has continuously evolved a distinctive practice which combines technical mastery, thematic gravitas, idiosyncratic imagery and that element of mystery and magic necessary to attract and hold attention. In Gond, which brings together paintings completed during a residency in Alexandra, Central Otago, Shepherd explores territory which is like nothing we have seen before yet familiar, with filaments connecting it to many previous themes and preoccupations – history, warfare, insignia, indigeneity, colonialism, landscape, ecology, botany, geomorphology, art history. Most of the pictures present a central object – ranging from the commonplace to the surreally enigmatic – against subdued and unemphatic but exquisitely painted Otago land-and-skyscapes (low horizons, big skies). The titles, too – Corsage for a Cortege, Orb, Res Publica, Matins in Manuherika, etc. – extend the connotations of these deeply compelling objects of contemplation.