Untitled blue/green
Don Peebles


Don Peebles
Untitled blue/green
Production date:
Accession No:
Part 1: 1900 x 2700mm Part 2: 1900 x 1000mm
Acrylic on canvas

Collection Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth. Purchased from Monica Brewster Bequest in 1980.

Don Peebles was a pioneer of New Zealand abstract painting who developed a rigorously experimental practice during his long artistic career. For a period of over 60 years he produced works which extended the vocabulary of painting, seeking to combine convention and innovation in a kind of dynamic harmony. Untitled Blue/Green employs one of Peebles’ key developments, the use of sheets of canvas stitched vertically onto the painting’s surface like pages in a book. These fins unfurl from the wall, and in the manner of sculpture, shoulder their way into the viewer’s space.

Untitled Blue/Green has a sumptuousness which belies its simple construction. The soft folds of canvas are soaked in thinned-out acrylic paint, giving the colour a luminous, organic quality. With its deep blues and greens, the painting evokes natural imagery of wave-washed seaweed, or gills. However, this softness and fluidity is balanced by the geometry of the composition. On the reverse of the painting, the stitching which attaches the canvas fins forms a regular grid pattern.

Peebles’ works often exist in a state of productive tension between binary opposites. While Untitled Blue/Green conjures images of natural forms it makes no claims to representation, remaining resolutely itself. The unfinished edges and visible grain of the canvas assert their own materiality, while also suggesting other materials. The architecture of the painting is disciplined and mathematical, whereas its effect is soft and flexible. It straddles the divide between two- and three-dimensionality, sculpture and painting, creating an image which has real depth. Peebles operated in the arena between artistic orthodoxy and radical innovation, and through his practice of serious play he renovated convention.