A portrait painter once removed....
Captain Cook, Ernest Shackleton, Rita Angus and Ferdinand Leger have all been captured by this whimsical portraitist and rendered cheeky archetypes by his unique cut and paste style. Rather than strict representations, Hurley’s portraits are subtle approximations featuring sitters that seem to spring from outmoded encyclopaedias, old history textbooks, or from obtuse pop-culture origins. Hurley crafts second-hand buccaneers, colonials, cineastes, painters, wenches and year-book darlings into oil paintings and collages. All bear their stylised facial features, whether they are Cupid’s bow lips, eye-colours, chin-clefts, philtra, periwigs or side-burns like characters from the “Guess Who?” board game.
Hurley’s collage-portraits are constructed from carefully layered flat planes of colour that together make up the simplified features of his subjects. Nostalgia for subject matter is extended to material as Hurley utilises textured papers and aged illustrations from old books thrifted from antique and second-hand stores. These collages frequently display their seams, there are cracks where shapes do not quite match and these are sometimes carried through into his paintings. Both collages and paintings share Hurley’s trademark palette which consists of sherbet pastels, generic browns and blacks, simplified primary colours and the ubiquitous powder-blue of a clear sky. All of Hurley’s works play with material and sensation, thick coarse hessian contrasts with heavy underpainting and a meticulous flat finish; varicoloured, carefully placed and glued paper shapes assemble on papery backgrounds in the company of scraps of old book covers and exercise book sheets.
The use of flat areas of colour and a general lack of modelling make Hurley’s subjects mask-like. His portraits create a sense of quietude, they are colourful and synthetic with a kind of porcelain decorum. Hurley’s colourful cast of characters make up a cobbled-together and imperfect history, all of the personages display features that seem as though they may float away, as though they are kept together merely with glue, their hessian supports or collective memory.
Gavin Hurley (b. 1973) a full-time artist based in Auckland, graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, in 1998, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting. Since then he has exhibited nationally and internationally in private galleries as well as public art institutions. Recent solo exhibitions include: Neatness / Diasarray (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2016), Meet (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2015), Switch Board Room (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2014), Memexograph (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2013), Boy with ......'s Beard (Corbans Estate Arts Centre, 2013), Whatisface (Melanie Roger Gallery, 2012) Endurance (Crane Brothers, Auckland and Wellington, 2011 - a Melanie Roger Gallery project) and Baad/Good Grammar, (Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland, 2010). He has also exhibited in public institutions within curated exhibitions such as: Bad Hair Day (Christchurch Art Gallery, 2017), Rumours (Franklin Arts Centre, 2016), Tranquility Disturb'd (National Portrait Galelry, 2015), Soft Cut (Waikato University, 2012), About Face: Aspects of Portraiture (Papakura Art Gallery, Papakura, 2011), Pakeha Now, (The Suter, Te Aratoi o Whatu, Nelson, 2007) and Mixed-Up Childhood curated by Robert Leonard. (Auckland Art Gallery, 2005). Hurley has collaborated with artists such as Martin Poppelwell and Sam Mitchell and has also been featured in recent publications such as Warwick Brown’s Seen this century: 100 contemporary New Zealand Artists: A Collector’s Guide (2009), New Zealand Portraits (2008) and the catalogue Mixed Up Childhood (2005). Hurley has also published a number of artist books. He has works held in public and private collections throughout New Zealand, Australia and Europe including the Christchurch Art Gallery and the Wallace Trust Collection.
Gavin Hurley has a solo exhibition of new work in late June at Melanie Roger Gallery.
For additional information and a complete CV please contact the gallery.
 James Robertson, “Generals and Particulars” in Gavin Hurley: Salty Yarns of the Sea, Anna Bibby Gallery: Auckland, 2006.
GAVIN HURLEY discusses his new work
Vimeo, Melanie Roger Gallery
HURLEY'S COLLAGED SCROLL
John Hurrell, Eyecontact review
CUT AND PASTE
Julie Hill, Home
THOUGHTFUL SCHOOL BOYS
John Hurrell, Eyecontact Review
Warwick Brown, Seen This Century, Godwit
Richard Wolfe, Boutwell Draper Gallery catalogue
GAVIN HURLEY: SALTY YARNS OF THE SEA
James Robertson, Anna Bibby Gallery catalogue
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN: GAVIN HURLEY
Nicola Saker, Art Zone
26th Feb – 21st Mar 2020
5th Dec – 22nd Feb 2019
20th Jun – 14th Jul 2018
6th Dec – 22nd Dec 2017
19th Jul – 12th Aug 2017
A Stitch in Time
23rd Nov – 17th Dec 2016
Neatness / Disarray
29th Jun – 23rd Jul 2016
Auckland Art Fair | Booth B1
25th May – 29th May 2016
24th Nov – 19th Dec 2015
23rd Sep – 17th Oct 2015
1st Jul – 25th Jul 2015
Summer Paper Round
19th Nov – 20th Dec 2014
Switch / Board / Room
30th Jul – 23rd Aug 2014
27th Nov – 20th Dec 2013
13th Mar – 6th Apr 2013
28th Nov – 22nd Dec 2012
Gavin Hurley | Peter Peryer | Emily Wolfe
8th Aug – 1st Sep 2012
- Artists in Isolation: Gavin Hurley
- Stockroom at Sapphire | Part of Artweek Auckland
- Gavin Hurley | The Rooms | Tauranga Art Gallery
- Art Week 2016
- Sam Mitchell & Gavin Hurley | Beards, Boys, Platters, Shattered Dreams | Sarjeant Gallery
- Henrietta Harris, Gavin Hurley & Sam Mitchell | Rumours | Franklin Arts Centre
- Gavin Hurley, Liyen Chong & Patrick Pound | Bad Hair Day | Christchurch Art Gallery
- GAVIN HURLEY & RICHARD ORJIS | Certainly Very Merry | Tim Melville Gallery
- Florence and Friends | Flotsam and Jetsam Pop-up Project
- Artweek Auckland
- Gallery Vimeo Channel
- Public Programmes | Gavin Hurley & Martin Poppelwell Artist Talks
- GAVIN HURLEY | Art New Zealand Magazine
- GAVIN HURLEY | TRANQUILITY DISTURB'D | NEW ZEALAND PORTRAIT GALLERY
- Winter Solstice Public Programmes | Gavin Hurley & Kirstin Carlin
- ART NEW ZEALAND Magazine texts
- Gavin Hurley & Richard Orjis in Man-Made | Dowse Art Museum