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Gordon Walters: Koru Paintings / Art Basel Hong Kong

In 2014 The Walters Estate entered into a partnership with Starkwhite to promote the work of pioneer abstract artist Gordon Walters, beginning with a solo exhibition at Art Basel Hong Kong in May 2014, presented with the support of Creative New Zealand.

The exhibition presented a small survey of the works Walters  is best known for - his paintings employing the koru, the curving bulb form from Maori moko and kowhaiwahi rafter patterns. He Mondrian-ised the koru, straightening and regimenting its scroll-like forms, taking it from organic to strictly geometric.

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Walters is a revered figure in New Zealand, recognised for a long and productive career spanning four decades. The Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki presented a retrospective exhibition his work in 1983 and a survey exhibition Parallel Lines in 1994, and he has been included in many shows, including A Very Peculiar Practice: aspects of recent New Zealand painting at the City Gallery, Wellington. Walters is represented in the country’s major public collections and his place in our art history is also memorialised in the bi-annual Walters Prize exhibition and award at the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki.

However, aside from Australia where his work has been seen in Headlands: thinking through New Zealand Art at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art, 1992 and the 5th Asia Pacific Triennial at the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, 2006-2007, Walters’ work has not found its way onto the international stage. This offered an opportunity for an important initiative by Starkwhite and the Walters Estate – to stage a solo exhibition of his paintings at one of the world’s greatest art fairs where it would be seen by international curators, exhibition makers and influential collectors. The presentation at Art Basel Hong Kong was a step towards granting Walters the international recognition he so richly deserves.