5 of New Zealand’s Brightest Visual Artists

Presented by NZ On Air, here are 5 of New Zealand’s Brightest Visual Artists.

When an Australian like myself thinks of New Zealand, there’s a tendency for words like ‘kiwi’ and ‘hiking’ to spring to mind. But as we’re exploring throughout NZ Week, there’s a formidable sense of culture embedded within our close neighbours to the east. After a long stalk scourging for the freshest meat in all the artsy land, I’ve come to find that the NZ art scene is buzzing. To satiate your inspiration needs and to spice up that Instagram feed, here’s a list of 5 visual artists New Zealand have to offer.

Brought to you by NZ On Air, check it out below.

Luke Willis Thompson

Luke Willis Thompson recently made news for being shortlisted by Britain’s most prestigious art award, the Turner Prize. The nomination came for his photographs of the girlfriend of Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black American shot by police in 2016.

His art reflects the tensions that arise in conjunction with identity, and what happens when they’re thrust into the spotlight.

New Zealand Visual Artists
autoportrait, 2017, installation view. Image: Andy Keate

Jen Sievers

The work of Jen Sievers is simply brimming with positive vibes. With her majestic brushstrokes and beautiful portraits, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love.

In June she joined art collective Greenhouse Interiors, further exploring her unique style with limited print runs, original piece sales, and collaborations with like-minded designers.

New Zealand Visual Artists
Happiness 4, acrylics on Lana Royal Paper, 280x390mm

Gavin Hurley

Gavin Hurley’s obtuse portraits are fascinating, if sometimes a little silly. After studying at Auckland University’s Elam School of Fine Arts, Hurley has gone on to extensively exhibit his work in New Zealand and internationally.

Using a mixed collage/oil painting technique involving textures like pages from old books or hessian sacks, Hurley carefully builds layer upon layer until a project is finished.

Big James, 2016, oil on linen, 1350 × 1000mm

Toby Raine

Tony Raine’s portraits target anyone from Bob Dylan, to fictional True Detective lead Rust Cole, to a drunk and furrowed Mel Gibson seething about the Jews. His fascination with male icons is far from exhausted, and neither is his talent.

Whoever the subject, they’re brilliant pieces of heavy oil painting. He is currently represented by Gow Langsford Gallery in Auckland.

New Zealand Visual Artists
Bob Dylan with vile red wine hangover, 2017, oil on linen, 660 x 505mm

Angela Tiatia

While currently based in Sydney, Angela Tiatia has established herself as one of the finer multi-disciplinary artists to have come out of New Zealand. Her work stretches across the fields of film, audio, visual, and performance, exploring the body, power, and identity.

A recent piece of work was The Fall, a short film screened at the New Orleans Film Festival plus the Edinburgh Short Film Festival, earning Tiatia the 2017 Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize.

New Zealand Visual Artists
Study for a self-portrait, 2018, oil on linen, 198.0 x 144.5 cm

Happy Mag’s NZ Week is a new initiative spotlighting New Zealand as one of the world’s most exciting cultural hubs.

Special thanks to NZ On Air Music for supporting Happy Mag’s NZ Week.