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John Papas - A Survey

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  • Sat 30 Mar ’19, 2:00pm
  • Wed 24 Apr ’19, 12:00am


Depot Artspace, 28 Clarence Street, Devonport


All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Free Admission


Depot Artspace

Opening Saturday 30 March, from 2:00pm – 3:30pm

John Papas was born in New Zealand in 1942 of Scots/Greek parentage. He is regarded as a senior New Zealand artist, with works in the permanent collections of the NZ Government, British Government and many private collections throughout the world.

His small villa in St Mary’s Bay in Auckland, a stone’s throw from the beautiful Waitemata harbour, is a tribute to the artist’s love of gardening (especially semi-tropical orchids).Pot plants vie for space with the many artworks that fill his home, and outside there is a semi-organised jungle of bamboo interspersed with New Zealand native foliage.

Papas views nature as a taonga, to be treasured, and was shocked to find on a recent visit to Greece the effect the pollution has had on the countryside there.

“I travel a lot, all over the world. I see it as my ‘dreamtime’ to gather inspiration for my work. I often go to Greece, since that was where my father originally came from. I was appalled about the way the environment has been forgotten. The air was laden with poisons and it was difficult to breathe. And there are continual water problems. Yet there is the lack of any political will to make a change."

The visit inspired him to create the series of oil painting works that depict pollution as a central theme.
“I’ve turned to my favourite sculpture; a horse figure, and placed it in a dried out landscape, raising its head, and bellowing about the plight of the environment around it” says Papas.

The image is striking; a form of deeply-felt protest that can only draw attention to the problem caused by abuse of the environment. Interestingly the horse is an icon central to Papas’ previous pieces. He comes back to it again and again.

“I was born in the Year of the Horse. As a symbol it represents a very powerful and strong force.” Papas tends to work in short sharp creative bursts, followed by hours perfecting a painting for an exhibition; and then changes direction completely by finishing a large multi-media mural commissioned by a private client.

His energy is prodigious; he moves to and from paintings to ceramic murals and collages with ease, alternating as the mood takes him. He often uses a wide range of media; bronze, steel, glass, perspex, ceramic tiles, paper and canvas to express a concept.

Most of his paintings are created for exhibitions and are often on clear themes gained from his overseas travel, the ‘dreamtime’ that he talks about. He takes a sketchbook with him wherever he goes, and jots down ideas constantly.

“Painting is very much a mood thing for me; I like goals, working for an exhibition, and do so in bursts of energy. I’m pretty driven, really, usually working with up to four paintings at once, and then organising the terracotta to go with them.”

Terracotta is a material that has always fascinated him. Initially using it as an element surrounding his paintings, he developed the idea of using clay tiles as shapes and motifs for his large scale public murals commissioned by interior designers and architects.

Most of his private commissions come from word of mouth, and Papas’ reputation for colourful collages and murals is steadily growing throughout New Zealand, and internationally.

Opening on the 30th of March, John Papas’ survey exhibition will assuredly be an encompassing experience of works that demonstrate his wonderful energy, versatility and ability to challenge and provoke thought.

A Survey opens on Saturday 30 March, from 2:00pm – 3:30pm
A Survey will be available to view from Saturday 30 March – Tuesday 24 April 2019.

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