Images: Morning Light on the Custom House, oil on board, 1000 x 1000mm. Morning Light (Tree Island Series), oil on board,
Stephen Howard returns to Parnell Gallery with an exciting new body of work in October.
The inspiration for these striking pieces is often found during regular travels throughout New Zealand. Following a move to Nelson in recent years, a focus on the stunning West Coast of the South Island can be seen in this show. Many will relate to the artist’s expression of the beauty and visual contrasts which may be glimpsed while passing through our landscapes. Bold, highly defined, yet well considered and pared back in colour and form, the aim is to achieve an essential impression of his subject matter. Thus, Howard’s approach may be seen as a ‘contemporary form of impressionism’.
A serene moment is captured in the work ‘Lake Ianthe’, where the far-end of a wooden jetty reaches out to perfectly still, reflective waters. In other pieces, such as ‘Morning Light on Custom House’ and ‘Morning Light (Moutere)’, faded and forgotten buildings from our unique heritage are recalled in elegant contrast to vibrant remnants of native bush. Howard continues an ongoing visual inquiry into stands of native trees, left in landscapes otherwise cleared for farming. The kaleidoscopic variations of vibrant colour, light and movement found within this subject matter, can be seen in works such as ‘Morning Light (Tree Island Series)’.
The abstract editing of extraneous details and manipulation of what remains, serve to reveal what is moving and essential about each scene of interest. The subject is often seen in a very still, clear light, which lends it a heightened regard. The accomplished layering of paint creates an organic yet crystalline atmosphere, beautifully preserving the particular memory or moment in time.
Top Image: Lake Ianthe, oil on board, 1200 x 800mm. Above image:Morning Light (Moutere), oil on board, 1200 x 800mm.