Whaddaya lookin’ at? Max Gimblett’s Undertow!


Undertow (2003), Gimblett


The quatrefoil – the symbolic canvas with which Max Gimblett (b. 1935, New Zealand) is most commonly associated. This symbol dating back to pre-Christian times has been found across Western and Eastern religions with an array of affiliations to objects as the rose, cross, and lotus. In Gimblett’s oeuvre the quatrefoil carries a weighty significance.

Despite a limited colour palette and minimal compositional elements, Undertow (2003) is rich in meaning and influences. Gimblett’s philosophies and practices draw on a collection of artistic movements such as Abstract Expressionism and Modernism, as well as an assortment of spiritual beliefs that take influence from Jungian psychology and Buddhism. While planning and contemplation are invovled ‘before’ and ‘after’ the works execution, Gimblett’s unique method of painting occurs quickly and spontaneously, reflecting his intuitive inner-self. It’s as if an innately passionate force is residing in the artist, driving and guiding his brushstrokes. Undertow carries an element of performance making it something not just to be seen, but to be experienced.

The work embodies a gestural sense of movement that remains equally delicate and complex – the black paint dances lightly and freely across the canvas in a state of grace and elegance. Gimblett conjures a sense of impulse that is as physical as it is spiritual, which ultimately culminates in a piece that transmits to its viewers an everlasting sensation of mystery, hope, and enlightenment.

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