Gordon Walters: Koru
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"My work is an investigation of positive/negative relationships within a deliberately limited range of forms; the forms I use have no descriptive value in themselves and are used solely to demonstrate relations. I believe that dynamic relations are most clearly expressed by the repetition of a few simple elements."
Gordon Walters (24 September 1919 - 5 November 1995) grew up in Wellington between the wars. In 1936, he began classes at the Wellington Technical College School of Art. Visiting Europe in 1950, Walters was impressed the work of abstract artists such as Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Victor Vasarely. His early interest in Maori art was reinforced in the 1940s by émigré Dutch artist Theo Schoon and in the '50s by experience of abstract art in Europe. For Walters, the Koru motif was a way of making sense of his environment. It reflected the obvious influence of Maori and Oceanic art in general. To this he added geometric abstraction, with its ideas of clarity and structure, interest in the relationship of figure and ground, and the needfor precise technique. Walters' Koru paintings are a meeting of Polynesian and European art traditions. Walters continued to work with the koru over the next three decades, exploring every possible variation of the motif to produce one of the most consistent bodies of painting in New Zealand art.
"Traditional Maori art means a lot to me — it is the one distinctive art style that we have in this country… What I have done is a kind of tribute to this tradition".
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